Atheists' sign sparks controversy
By NEWS CHANNEL 8
Added: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Mad Scientist for the link.
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Atheists' sign sparks controversy
Vernon (WTNH) _ A sign posted by Atheists in the Rockville's Central Park has people talking, prompting calls to the town hall and the local clergy.
The Connecticut Valley Atheists posted the three-sided sign, which some call a billboard, and it was the only sign in the town center marking the Holiday season. Two sides of the display feature the Twin Towers, framed by the words "Imagine No Religion."
This Christmas, Martha Chennelle and Amy Houser say Vernon could use a few prayers, considering the sign standing in front of town hall.
"We believe that Christ is the reason for Christmas," said Chennelle.
"I feel like this is an attack on my beliefs as a religious person," said Houser.
The sign, put up by the Connecticut Valley Atheist Group, which was supposed to mark the winter solstice, but the "Imagine No Religion" part of it, taken from John Lennon's song, "Imagine," has a lot of people upset.
Houser says the sign mocks her religion during a holy time of the year. "Imagine no religion is an attack against me, as any person of faith should take it as an attack against them," Houser said.
The town issued permits to the Atheist group to put the sign in the park. They also issued permits to a group of churches that plans to put a nativity scene and to a local synagogue to put up a menorah.
Dennis Himes, a Vernon resident, and member of CT Valley Atheists, says he was tired of seeing Christian displays.
"There are plenty of places to put up nativity scenes in Vernon. The original question that started this controversy was not whether a nativity scene would be put up in Vernon," said Dennis Himes of Vernon. "The question was whether the nativity scene would be put in front of a church or in front of town hall, on government property.
Himes also says that the picture of the Twin Towers is meant to show that without religion, 9-11 wouldn't have happened. A suggestion that has upset Muslims, as well.
"This is an attack," said Houser.
Chennelle and Houser have been fighting back with prayer.
"We ultimately believe that Christians have been persecuted throughout history," said Houser, "so this is nothing new."
According to the Hartford Courant town officials issued the Atheists a permit to put up the sign to commemorate the Winter Solstice. Permits were also issued to local churches and a synagogue to put up their own displays.
Yesterday the town of Rockville put up a large Christmas Tree, just 10 feet from the display.
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