Freethought Today · June/July 2012

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Great activism in city named for Thomas Jefferson

I was alone in my activism on the May 3 National Day of Prayer in Jefferson City, Mo. I made several signs, including KEEP PRAYER OUT OF THE CAPITOL. THEY HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO! The first reaction I got while waiting at the bus stop near my home was a neighbor giving me thumbs-up and a smile when he saw my signs as he mowed his lawn.

The Capitol was surrounded by a motorcycle gang of several dozen Christians, with amplified Christian music blaring across the grounds. I didn’t see any media all day. In the morning, I established myself on the edge of a large fountain which is the grand centerpiece of the grounds, with my signs facing the folding chairs set up on the lawn.
I was approached by a woman who graciously granted me her permission to have my opinion and assured me that she will pray for me anyway. She soon returned with about a dozen people, mostly men, who told me that my position on prayer is why the country is in the sad state that it is today.

I said, “I can see that you came over here to block the view of my signs, and I will not engage with you.” To their credit, they moved aside so that my signs were again visible, but then the men took turns praying aloud. I kept reading a magazine. As they left, one said to me, “You know, young lady (I’m 55), this country was founded on —
I finished his sentence for him: “the separation of church and state.” And they walked away.

I had also written to my state legislators and other state officials to tell them that I expect them to do any praying they may do on their own time and not while they’re on state property working for the people.

Sue Gibson
Missouri

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