While the Christians cry the about the “war on Christmas,” and cite religious persecution against their beliefs, it is the non-theist point-of-view that typically tries to be silenced, especially during the holiday season by those who reject reason.
2016 was a particularly damaging year to secular Winter Solstice displays as the Freedom From Religion Foundation has seen numerous attacks on its holiday displays this year, including a great deal of tampering to our own FFRFMCC displays. From Florida, to Virginia, to Connecticut, to Illinois, FFRF has been the victim of vandals who just cannot tolerate dissenting opinions. Secular Winter Solstice banners and displays this year have been slashed, spray-painted, and stolen, including those of both the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Satanic Temple.
The reason we erect our displays in the first place is strictly in response to an insistence by the Christian majority that their specific religion must be forced upon the general public on what should be secular taxpayer property. When a secular display is erected to counter religious imagery imposed on government property, they are called rude, insensitive and offensive, simply because we feel it is important for those who don’t adhere to those superstitious beliefs be represented. In other words, if the courts are going to allow these “Free Speech” forums in the public squares, then those of religious faith who insist on proselytizing on government property need to realize there must be “room at the Inn” for everyone.
In 2016, our FFRFMCC displays in both Chicago’s Daley Center Plaza and North School Park in Arlington Heights again could not be left alone by those who think this perceived religious privilege will cause others to look the other way without a guilty conscience when any attempt is made to muffle the dissenting views of the “outsiders.” In Arlington Heights, our Dawkins scarlet “A” was unplugged several times, and our description sign was maliciously bent. While this tampering was a nuisance, there was no permanent damage to the display. Our scarlet “A” in Daley Center Plaza however, did not come through as unscathed this year.
During the take down on December 28th, two of our member volunteers discovered the electrical cord to the “A” had been cut in half, rendering the more than 100 lights that adorn the sign to be inoperable. We have no idea exactly when this took place, or for how long our sign was in the dark. What was apparent is that whoever had done this must have had the proper tools with them to cut an electrical cord, meaning this was likely not something that was done on a whim. While more damage has always occurred in the community of Arlington Heights, some minimal tampering does usually take place with our Chicago displays. Most of this has involved things like unplugging the cord, or the breaking of a few bulbs. But this was the first time we have experienced vandalism of this magnitude in the City of Chicago.
Such vandalism is very difficult to prevent, and often even more difficult to apprehend the culprits. While we respect the fact the actions of a few individuals in no way represents an entire group, what those of the Christian faith need to put their money where their faith is and begin taking a stronger position calling out those whose actions are smearing the “good name” of their religion. Any condemnation against the vandalism that does come from the religious community is often followed by the suggestion that this wouldn’t happen if we could only refrain from erecting our displays in the first place. In other words, if we would just keep quiet and not challenge their beliefs, we wouldn’t have to deal with the vandalism. This is not a moral position to take.
If Christianity is supposed to be the religion of peace, love, understanding, empathy and tolerance as its followers like to claim, then perhaps the leaders of that faith should be a little more vocal in their condemnation of these criminal acts, instead of looking the other way.