Updated FFRF Statement on Coos Bay

Earlier this week, a person or persons identifying themselves as representing nonreligious veterans claimed responsibility for two explosions involving the cross memorial in Mingus Park and the Bay Area House of Prayer in Coos Bay, Ore. Local freethinkers, state/church advocates and FFRF had previously asked that the town of Coos Bay move or remove the Christian memorial to Vietnam War vets, since it violates the Constitution. Bizarrely, an explosive device was left near the chapel at Bay Area House of Prayer, which had volunteered to host the Christian memorial, if the city agrees to its removal.

This group has no website or verifiable existence. An anonymous threatening letter dated September 6, 2013, was sent to members of the Coos Bay City Council, City Manager Roger Craddock, and the local newspaper, The World. The letter demands the City of Coos Bay remove the cross memorial at Mingus Park and threatens further violence if the demands are ignored. According to a news story from The World, the “authenticity [of the letter] is in question.” The Coos Bay Police Department, FBI and Oregon State Police are investigating these incidents.

FFRF strongly condemns any violent and reckless acts. We have never, and will never, advocate or employ violence against those with whom we disagree. FFRF’s goal is to enforce the law, to ensure that the government complies with constitutional principles that are a bedrock of our secular republic. We expressly do not accomplish that mission by inciting anyone to lawlessness — quite the opposite. We encourage members and citizens to stand up for the law — the First Amendment, which protects all of us, through educational activities.

FFRF encourages anyone in the Coos Bay area with information about these cases to call the Coos Bay Police Department at 541-269-8911. FFRF hopes the person(s) or group responsible for these senseless acts are apprehended soon.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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