It was not exactly “good will toward all” at public forums around the country. The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s winter solstice banner or sign, placed in 12 cities to counter religious displays on public property, has been stolen or vandalized in four spots by “First Amendment Grinches.”
Most recently, FFRF’s banner, placed on Dec. 17 on the Boston Common, was stolen sometime on Dec. 24.
“Mary Dyer was hanged on Boston Common in 1660 for daring to preach tenets of the Quaker religion, and some residents carry on that tradition of intolerance by carrying off our Boston Common banner,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
Fence posts weighing more than 80 pounds secured a similar banner but were overturned in Gladwin, Mich., sometime before or on Christmas Day, next door to the police station. FFRF is offering $1,000 awards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves and vandals.
The 7 x 3 ½ feet colorful mesh banner says: “At this season of the winter Solstice Let Reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
The signs were placed in response to large religious displays on government property.
FFRF already reported that its winter solstice banner was stolen last week from a public forum in Warren, Mich., with FFRF offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit. Both banners in Michigan are missing.
An identified man last week brazenly and in front of TV cameras cut cords displaying one of FFRF’s banners in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., only one day after it was erected by the city. FFRF had a permit and had paid the required $50 to have the city put up the display. To date, the city and police in Wilkes-Barre have not reattached FFRF’s sign, or apparently taken any action against the vandal.
“We want to thank Joe Chavez of Gladwin, Mich., for all his efforts to place and secular the banner, Zachary Smith of Boston, Justin Vacula of Wilkes-Barre, and Douglas Marshall of Warren, Mich., as well as our local helpers in other locations,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor
FFRF’s winter Solstice banner, urging all to “Let Reason Prevail,” went up in nine places (click here to view all of FFRF's solstice banner news releases), including Streator, Ill., Gladwin County, Mich., Olympia, Wash., Prineville, Ore., Arlington Heights, Ill., Manassas, Va., Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Boston Common, Mass., and Warren, Mich. Additionally, the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda in Madison, saw the second coming of our anti-crèche and the 17th revival of our winter solstice sign. Witnesses report to FFRF that Gov. Scott Walker had aides remove the anti-crèche before appearing to light the Tree [see article] on Nov. 30. A winter solstice sign is gracing the Milwaukee, Wis. courthouse for the second year in a row. FFRF’s Chicago-area chapter erected its own clever sign, depicting Founding Fathers and Lady Liberty posed reverentially before a manger-bound Bill of Rights for the FFRF display in Niles, Ill. Two other towns have been giving FFRF the run-around on permitting our displays. Athens, Texas, refused to allow our banner alongside their nativity scene. Pitman, N.J., bounced FFRF volunteers from city official to city official in search of a permit for a banner while news reports state the Knights of Columbus did not need one.