A vandal or vandals in Warren, Mich., damaged the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Winter Solstice banner the day after it was put in place to counter a religious nativity scene on public property.
The 7½-by-3 foot banner states: “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL. There are not gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
It was placed Friday, Dec. 15, in the median of Mound Road by local FFRF member Douglas Marshall, who got a permit for it from the Macomb County Department of Roads. The damage was done sometime Saturday night.
"After a stake pole was vandalized, our banner was blowing around the median," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "We urge police to investigate this tampering. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has opposed using this median strip for religious displays not only as a constitutional violation, but a traffic hazard.
"Now that the town has formally deemed it a public forum, FFRF and our area members have full right to place our display. Fanatics who would censor our speech should realize such vandalism is not only criminal, but could cause serious accidents," Gaylor said.
FFRF has been involved with this particular nativity scene in one way or another for the past four years. In 2008, Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter to the Macomb County Road Commission requesting an investigation into the placement and permit of the nearly 10 foot-tall crèche.
Marshall (who is a plaintiff in FFRF's ongoing lawsuit against the Warren crèche) and other FFRF supporters planned to restore the banner this noon to its permitted spot.