Last month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Clara, California. It came after issuing more than a dozen warnings against the 14-foot-tall Christian cross that had been up in a public park since the 1950s, obviously to promote the faith.
You can imagine, then, how people would be quick to blame atheists after someone vandalized the cross on Friday, spray-painting a white X at the base of the monument.
“That’s so mean to do because it’s God,” said Carmen Castaneda of Santa Clara. “It stands for God. Whoever did that has no religion.”
And whoever says that has no desire to wait for the facts to come in, immediately jumping to conclusions about who did it. (If anything, the first part of her statement is troubling for the city, which claims the monument has nothing to do with religion.)
FFRF unequivocally condemned the vandal today:
“It goes without saying that FFRF opposes any defacement of property,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We do not resort to criminal actions to fight unconstitutional incursions of religion in government. We have the law on our side and that’s why we’re in federal court.”
“This reaction underscores the harm of uniting religion (in this case, Christianity) with government,” Gaylor adds. “It turns believers into insiders and nonbelievers or non-Christians into outsiders who are even expected to avoid using city streets and parks that inappropriately endorse religion.”
It’s possible an atheist was the culprit, but it could have been anyone. Without more information, there’s no reason to accuse any one person or group in particular. As Gaylor said, atheists already have the law on our side. Damaging the monument doesn’t help anyone.
So far, however, there are no leads on the case.