Atheist Sign Stolen… Again December 17, 2008

Atheist Sign Stolen… Again

***Update***: The sign has been replaced and the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee (SNSC) has condemned the person who stole the original FFRF plaque:

“It is truly unfortunate that someone decided to express their displeasure with the disturbing sign by stealing it,” said Daniel Zanoza, Chairman of the SNSC. “Of course, our entire committee would encourage the return of the sign to its rightful owners. Judeo-Christian teachings tell us ‘Thou shalt not steal’ through the Ten Commandments. I know SNSC members are in unison in their condemnation of this act.”

It’s déjà vu all over again, as the Freedom From Religion Foundation writes in a press release.

The atheist plaque placed in the Springfield, Illinois Capitol building (next to the Nativity Scene)… was stolen.

As a reminder, the same plaque was stolen — then found hours later — in Olympia, Washington only a week ago.

The sign, which cost about $80 to print, read: “At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The sign was securely taped to an easel.

“It had to take an effort (to remove it),” [FFRF co-president Annie Laurie] Gaylor said. “Atheists never engage in vandalism. We don’t go around stealing the Baby Jesus. They don’t follow their own commandments.”

Gaylor said the group hopes to have a replacement sign in place by today. “We’ll put a ‘Thou Shall Not Steal’ sign with it,” Gaylor said.

She’s making two mistakes there.

First, we don’t know who stole the plaque so we don’t know if “they” are breaking their own commandments. It might seem like a Christian did it, but let’s not jump to conclusions without evidence.

That’s un-atheistical of us.

Second, I’m sure there are atheists who have vandalized something before. We’re not any better or worse than religious people when it comes to morality. (Though there could be a case for us being more moral…)

There’s no need for retaliation. Atheists don’t need to go around stealing Baby Jesi. Let’s keep the moral high ground when it comes to these displays.

Perhaps a parallel: A Baby Jesus was stolen in Sandusky, Ohio. It was found later… hanging from an apartment’s ceiling fan.

Sandusky police say they went to Joshua Martin’s apartment on Friday acting on a tip. The 22-year-old has been charged with receiving stolen property, and 23-year James Arwood is charged with theft.

Police say Martin and Arwood blame each other for the statue’s theft and blame one another for the idea to hang it from the fan.

Again, I don’t know if they’re atheists. I hope they’re not.

Either way, both guys deserve a penalty.

(Thanks to Ashley for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Is “un-atheistical” the same as “theistic”?

  • It’s too bad about the sign and I hope they find it. That being said… Baby Jesi? That made me laugh, although now that I think about it, I’ve never seriously considered the proper pluralization of Baby Jesus…

  • Loren Petrich

    If it was bored pests doing it, then they’d have much juicier targets — think of what they might draw on Mary’s chest.

  • Richard Wade

    Are these state capitol buildings like abandoned warehouses? There’s nobody in there? No security guards or cameras? What does that say about protecting them from terrorism? Or perhaps people who should have been doing their jobs just winked and looked the other way.

  • Christie

    Good call on not assuming that it was an Xtian who took it. I can immediately think of several other possibilities, including:

    1. There are plenty of atheists, myself included, who don’t like the face that particular sign puts on us as a community, and it is possible that an atheist took it for that reason.

    2. The sign could be just as offensive to a polytheistic minority, (Hindus, Wiccans, etc.) and could have taken it in protest (I know, it’s vandalism and theft, not protest.)

    3. A teenager who *agrees* with the sentiment may have thought it was cool and it’s now hanging on the wall of his or her basement. (Personally I think this one is easily as likely as the Offended Xtian Hypothesis.)

    Until there’s actual evidence of who took it, it’s best not to assume we know who, or why.

  • Tom

    The FFRF is really embarassing itslef here. These responses to the press are just rediculous. Oh, and unatheistical? Puhleeez… You can’t brand atheism as having a values set. And nievely believing that atheists wouldn’t vandalize something is just ignorant!

  • Jesus Christ

    I’ve been stolen, again

  • Atheist Sign

    Me too.

  • Skepticat

    Miss Gaylor’s comment was wrong on so many levels and I’m glad you brought attention to it. It’s very dangerous for us to resort to the same generalizations and demonizations that we complain about being on the receiving end of all the time. I’ve always been a big fan of the FFRF but I feel like they have represented us poorly this year. I hope they will choose a more positive approach next year.

  • Baby Jesi?

  • Matt

    I have no wish for this comment to be an attack on Ms Gaylor, but I agree with your assessment of her comments, Hemant. While I have no doubt that her intentions — along with those of the FFRF — are good, it’s specifically Ms Gaylor’s approach to theism that has stopped me listening to the FFRF’s otherwise excellent podcast and spending less time on their website. As an atheist, I find her attitudes and responses to theistic issues to be reactionary and intemperate, and come across with a not insubstantial “us vs them” mentality. The comments you highlight are good examples of her apparent inability to rationalise objectively — it’s such behaviour that provides ammunition to those who believes atheists are just “angry at God”.

    I really do wish Ms Gaylor the best, but hope she takes some time to resolve these issues and learn to deal in a more objective manner.

  • “That’s un-atheistical of us.”

    LOL Not sure exactly what that means. Irrational, maybe?

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