It’s nice every now and then to be reminded that the town where I was born isn’t the only place around here where crazy has, if not a permanent residence, at least a room and an open invitation. Earlier this week the Borough Council in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania — a fine little town just north of the state line — voted to remove a nativity scene from its center square fountain that has been a mainstay of holiday decorations for the last twenty years. And naturally, whose fault is it? Those un-American, baby-Jesus-pissing-on atheists.
Except, not really. From the Herald-Mail:
The vote came after Pennsylvania Nonbelievers Inc. of York, Pa., informed the council it planned to place a memorial to atheist veterans on the north side of the fountain and advised it would erect the display regardless of the council’s approval.
“I feel this is the only decision we could have made,” said council president Bill McLaughlin. “We were advised by our solicitor that the Supreme Court ruled that it is all or nothing.”
Those fucking atheists! Why are they always throwing their weight around to have God removed from the public square?
Attempting to take God out of the public square is not how his organization approaches the First Amendment, [Nonbelievers board member Carl] Silverman said.
“We think that it is a bad strategy, since if we take Jesus and God out of the public square, we lose the ability to be visible as well,” he said. “We feel putting atheism into the public square along with God is the way to go.”
Religious types around here are blaming the Nonbelievers for this — and so is council president McLaughlin, who told the Herald-Mail that this case is disappointing, and a result of “the tyranny of the minority” — when the council itself is really to blame. The Nonbelievers never asked that the nativity scene be removed, only that their own non-religious memorial to atheist veterans be included. And rather than allow an atheist organization to erect its display alongside the long-standing religious one, the council voted to takes its crèche and go home.
Council president McLaughlin grumbled that they had a choice of “all or nothing.” Fine — why choose nothing? What would be so wrong with all? The atheist group was behaving perfectly reasonably. It was the members of the borough council that were apparently so offended by the display of a tribute to non-religious veterans of the American armed forces that they voted to ban all such displays from the center square. The nativity scene will be relocated to a private property, probably a church near the square, which is where it should have been all along. But if you’re one of those pissed off that this blatantly religious installation will no longer be placed on public property, don’t blame the atheists, who were willing to share; blame the intolerant religious types, who decided it was better to just kick everyone out of the sandbox.