Atheist holiday display discriminated against by county

Originally appearing in the Philadelphia Atheism Examiner: Staks Rosch talks about efforts to have a display set up by the Freethought Society.  Known as the “Tree of Knowledge” this display is coming under attack from religious public officials.

It isn’t even December yet and Christians are already trying to claim the monopoly on the entire winter season. Once again the Freethought Society’s planned winter display; “The Tree of Knowledge” is in jeopardy.

For the last four years, the Tree of Knowledge display has been included with the Jesus Crèche, and the Menorah and Christmas Tree. It has always been a fight for the atheist group to be treated fairly with equal protection under the law. Last year the group almost lost that battleand in the end, they still got pushed to the back of the metaphoric bus. This year they may lose the fight altogether.

My esteemed colleague, Carol Everhart Roper, The Philly Freethought Examiner discusses the current situation in two important article HERE and HERE. However, this situation seems to be changing rapidly. Carol and I will continue to publish new articles on this issue as new information becomes available. Please subscribe to us both if you have not done so already.

Now the Commissioners have created a resolution which they believe will lock the Freethought Society out of the winter free speech zone. They will be voting on Resolution 58-10 on Thursday morning and it is expected to pass since it was designed to purposefully exclude the Tree of Knowledge display.

I have written a letter and e-mailed it to the commissioners. Keep in mind that I am very familar with all the various players some some of the letter reference my first hand dealings with Colin Hanna the head of the “Pastor Network.” Here is that letter:

Dear Commissioners,
It seems like the Commissioners are once again trying to find a way to exclude atheists from the winter free speech zone. Although Colin Hanna may believe that Christians have the monopoly on the Winter Season, you should also keep in mind that he also believes that Chester County borders Mexico.

The fact is that in the past Mr. Hanna has been afforded special privileges and given information before such information was made available to the general public by one or more of the Commissioners in relation to the Winter Free Speech Zone. This is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Resolution 58-10 is just another attempt in a long line of attempts to discriminate against atheists in the community. If a Commissioner can’t separate your personal religious preferences from your secular duty to all citizens to uphold the Constitution fairly and equally, then perhaps you should no longer serve as a county Commissioner.

The Tree of Knowledge display is a tribute to human knowledge and contains book covers of multiple disciplines including science, history, philosophy, and even religious holy books. Unlike the Chester County Commissioners, the Tree of Knowledge does not discriminate. Even though atheists are putting up this display, we included book covers representing the Bible and the Qur’an. We support inclusion and have acted in good “faith” as it were. In return we have gotten nothing but disingenuous procedures aimed at forcing us to be silent.

Is this really what Christianity teaches? Is this really how Christians want to present themselves to the public? It seems very Talibanish if you ask me. Atheists have just as much right to display our values as any other group. We choose to display our value in human knowledge. Is that such a threat to you?

In Reason,
Staks Rosch


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