Earlier this week, we saw New York’s Utica Fire Department Station 4 promoting Christianity with a sign outside the firehouse reading “Happy Birthday Jesus.”
Besides the sign just looking and sounding childish, you could make the argument that it’s an illegal promotion of a single faith. That’s what the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a letter.
The sign at Fire Station 4 explicitly invokes the name Jesus, an exclusively Christian god, and makes a direct statement in support of that deity… This is precisely the sort of religious endorsement prohibited by the Establishment Clause.
The department could, in theory, put up displays of other groups to remain neutral, but they were better off just removing the sign or handing it off to a church.
So what did the department choose to do?
They say a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local food bank (which makes you wonder about where the rest of it is going), but that’s irrelevant. Why is a fire department getting into a religious debate with the community? If you go through their Facebook feed, you get the feeling they’ve spent more time talking about Jesus lately than doing anything useful.
Safety seems to be the least of their concerns right now.
(Thanks to Joe for the link)