The Constitution is supposed to protect us from religious theocracy, but it has failed. West Chester, Pennsylvania is once again using religion and religious values to run and attempt to run atheists out of town. Here I present to you two stories that should frighten and motivate you.
First up is a story that just broke this morning. My friend Jill is closing her sex-positive store, Feminique. You can read her book, Fighting the Crusade Against Sex: Being Sex-Positive in a Sex Negative World, which details her struggle to open the store in downtown West Chester. I reviewed the book HERE.
Since the book, the Church and local politicians have continued to harass Jill’s business and forced her to take legal action after legal action. After 5 ½ years of this harassment, the local theocracy has worn her down. She will be closing her store at the end of the month, but will continue to be a sex educator and lecturer around the country. If you would like to hire her, check out her website: thesexologist.org
The second story also is focused in West Chester, Pennsylvania but deals with the theocracy on a county level. In 2007, the Freethought Society erected a winter display next to the Jesus crèche and the Hanukah Menorah on the lawn of the Chester County Courthouse. Obviously, no religious displays would be preferable, but “if you can’t beat them, join them” is the next best thing. So Margaret Downey created the Tree of Knowledge. The display went up for three winter seasons and then the theocracy got tired of it and attempted to craft legislation specifically designed to kick the atheists out while continuing to allow Christians and Jews alone to continue to put up displays.
Every year since, the Freethought Society has fought the battle and lost to put up our Tree of Knowledge display. Last year we were join by the Pastafarians, but were still unsuccessful. This morning, I received an e-mail from Margaret informing me that the fight for this year’s display is about to begin. We will not allow the theocracy to chase us out of town without a fight. You can read about the previous battles as I recounted them in these numerous Examiner article:
Atheist holiday display discriminated against by county
Tree of Knowledge to be excluded from county winter display
Atheist holiday display officially excluded
Freethought Society protests Tree of Knowledge exclusion
In defense of the Tree of Knowledge
The Human Tree of Knowledge 2011 rally
Tree of Knowledge: A new atheist tradition
Pastafarians fight county commissioners for Holiday display
Pastafarian Holiday Tree rejected!
Atheists form ‘Human Tree of Knowledge’
In all honesty, I doubt that the Freethought Society’s efforts this year will be successful. The same county commissioners who had previously ruled against us are still in office and are still motivated by a theocratic interpretation of government. Again, we have one lone commissioner who is willing to stand with us, but her voice will not be enough. At the end of the day, we will lose.
Tomorrow is Election Day and while it isn’t a presidential election year, small local and county wide offices are up for a vote. Go forth and vote in your local elections! We need to become a voter bloc and get atheists and atheist friendly theists into local offices. That being said, after the election is over, political parties will be looking for new local candidates for the next local election cycle. Consider being one of those candidates. Run for school board, town council, mayor, county commissioner, or one of the county row offices. You can even run for election inspector or do what I did and just write your name in for some small office and who knows, like me you just might win.
Tomorrow I will be sitting at the polling place all day finishing out my term as Minority Election Inspector. I’ll be hanging out with a bunch of right wing Catholics and will probably be discussing religion and politics outside the polling place during the slow times. So it should be an interesting day.
- Rebecca Vitsmun: I’m Actually An Atheist | The Thinking Atheist (richarddawkins.net)
- Christians Gonna Hate (skepticink.com)
- The Salvation Army Is On The March (skepticink.com)
- Rise of the ‘New Mathematicians’ (skepticink.com)