Roger, Pat & Melody Receive Emperor Award (August 2003)

he Freedom From Religion Foundation awarded Roger, Pat and Melody Cleveland its “Emperor Has No Clothes” Award on July 4, 2003, at the Lake Hypatia Independence Day celebration. It is hosted annually by the Alabama Freethought Association at the Clevelands’ park grounds in rural Alabama. (Pat and Roger are married, and Melody is Roger’s sister.)

In presenting the golden statuette on behalf of the Foundation, Freethought Today editor Annie Laurie Gaylor noted that it was the Alabama Freethought Association which took the original successful lawsuit challenging Judge Roy Moore’s courtroom Ten Commandments. The Association was joined by Gloria Hershiser, and the case was only thrown out by the state high court on a bizarre technicality.

“Roger, Pat and Melody dreamed of a freethought ‘advance, not retreat,’ right in the buckle of the bible belt,” said Annie Laurie.

“They deeded the land for the Lake Hypatia Freethought Hall to the national Foundation, which raised funds for the building. The second installment, the auditorium, was dedicated in 1999. Lake Hypatia Freethought Hall was built and is such a success, because of the confidence we all feel in the Clevelands and their judgment, stewardship and vision.

“The Clevelands also had the wonderful idea of inviting the national Foundation to place its Atheists in Foxholes monument here, the ideal spot.

“They generously open their beautiful land and lake to hundreds of freethinkers from all over the country. That is authentic Southern Hospitality!

“The Alabama Freethought Association, which they founded and which is the Foundation’s longest-lasting chapter, has worked invaluably as an umbrella organization of atheists, agnostics and other freethinkers to keep church and state separate in Alabama.

“The Clevelands, in publicly espousing this most significant cause, embody the small child in the fairy tale who says, ‘But the emperor has no clothes.'”

The Foundation also singled out George Whatley, M.D., for his vital help to the chapter and the Foundation, and Bill Teague, “master engraver extraordinaire.”

“Pansy” candies (pansies, from the Latin and French word for “thought,” are a traditional freethought emblem) were distributed to volunteers Ilene Sparks, the freethought master gardener; Rachel Doughty, an activist and chapter officer; chapter activists Hank and Alice Shiver; and newsletter editor Patsy Ann Pitts.

Freedom From Religion Foundation