FFRF convinces Okla. town to remove derogatory religious displays

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has successfully persuaded Lawton, Okla., to remove several disrespectful religious displays from city property.

The state/church watchdog was notified of the unconstitutional displays by a local atheist veteran. A sign on the information desk of City Hall read “ONE DIED FOR YOUR SOUL and THE OTHER DIED FOR YOUR FREEDOM” and included a Latin cross. Similar signs were posted elsewhere on city property.

FFRF asked for the displays to be removed, noting they violate the constitutional separation between state and church, as well as to respect the religious and nonreligious diversity of Lawton’s residents, including its veterans. These displays marginalized a significant portion of Americans, including FFRF’s complainant. Nearly 30 percent of military personnel identify as nontheist, humanist or are simply unaffiliated with a particular religion, also true for the general adult population. By displaying messages that associate being a veteran with being a Christian, the city sent an unconstitutional message of exclusion.

FFRF received a positive reply from City Attorney John Ratliff shortly after it expressed concern.

“Upon receipt of your letter, the religious signage was immediately removed from City Hall and city property,” Ratliff wrote. “The city of Lawton greatly respects the religious diversity of its residents, including its veterans.”

FFRF extends appreciation to the city of Lawton for abiding by the Constitution and correcting the issue.

“City Hall displays must remain secular to abide by the Constitution and welcome all citizens,”, says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Contrary to the myth, there are many ‘atheists in foxholes.’ We’re glad Lawton city officials are now cognizant of that.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 39,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Oklahoma. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend