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My Take on the Atheist Sign in Olympia

December 11, 2008

This post is probably going to cause me some grief but I need to say it. That damn sign in Washington state’s capitol building needs to go. Now, while you’re tossing that shit off government property, also remove the nativity scene and every other religiously motivated symbol inside it. It’s a government building and required to be secular, all of those thinsg are a violation of the Constitution. The only way that can happen is to keep it empty of religious iconography. There are 100,000 gods being worshipped on this planet and there is no way they can all be equally represented in every city hall and capitol building in our nation. You don’t keep the government secular by drowning it in every religion; you do so by keeping a wall of separation between faith and state.

In my opinion, the FFRF really dropped the ball here. I support the majority of law suits they file every year, and if they had sued to have the nativity scene removed I would have supported them there too. Instead they let the faithful bring them down to their level. And in the event that the scene couldn’t be removed then the FFRF had a real opportunity to put something up there that was really positive and put atheism in a good light. Instead, they were petty and made us all appear to be spiteful children. I’m really ashamed of them for that.

In my opinion, they put that divisive of a sign up because they knew it would get vandalized in some way, and that pisses me off. If they had put up a sign that was respectful but represented our views or something of the sort and then that sign was stolen, we would have the high ground. Now they’re all nothing more than petty fools running around squabbling with each other. I just hope no atheists decide to be disrespectful and mess with the nativity scene or the other signs/symbols present.

All of that being said, I’m under the impression the person who stole the sign has been arrested, and I hope they enjoy their Christmas behind bars. Breaking the law is still breaking the law, whether they were provoked or not.

So what’s your take on the matter? Should they all be removed or just one?

  1. December 11, 2008 1:59 pm

    Yes, but can you take the atheism out of the schools while you’re at it? Knock it off with the Darwinism and every other religion that claims not to be a religion, and then we can agree.

  2. December 11, 2008 2:12 pm

    No where in school do you read in a text book that says “There is no God”. Schools are secular, not irreligious. Most of my teachers countered everything in the text books with their own beliefs after each lesson anyway. “Darwinism” (Evolution) has mountains of proof. If science disproves your gods so easily that’s your own issue to deal with.

    Besides, there are plenty of at-home schooling programs for the fundamentalist’s little janitors-to-be if their religion can’t hold up to empirical evidence..

  3. December 11, 2008 2:58 pm

    Jeebus man, don’t encourage them to shelter their kids any more than they already do. Picking up a nugget of information at school might be the impetus they need to cast off their religious indoctrination by their parents.

    – Schev

  4. December 11, 2008 3:09 pm

    These kind of folks aren’t going to be persuaded by the likes of me to not shelter their children. Someone who thinks “Darwinism” is a religion has already fallen off the ledge. Only FSM or PZ Myers himself can save them at that stage..

    That being said, home school is bad for children, it leaves them unprepared for the real world and maladjusted for modern society. You are dooming your children to a maladjusted life if you home school them and then expect them to walk out into the real world afterward.

  5. efilyzarcym permalink
    December 11, 2008 6:21 pm

    Well, I actually came to agree with your stance on the sign – – for the very reasons you spoke of; however, reading your little rant about home schooling pisses me off.

    Not all home schoolers are christian – – or “leave their children unprepared for the real world” – – or “maladjusted for modern society.”
    The choice to home school my children has been personal….one was for punitive reasons (PS was NOT a good match) and the other was mostly ’cause I just enjoyed hanging out with the oldest one and want to hang out with the younger one.
    Besides, how do you know whether home schooling is good for my family or not?

  6. December 11, 2008 6:34 pm

    efilyzarcym, my sincerest apologies for offending you. My main grievance is against people who home school their children based on religious views or parents who don’t understand the importance of socialization in youth development. My personal experience with children who have been home schooled (most were for religious reasons) were that they were very maladjusted to dealing with non-family members and large groups of people and weren’t very civil. If you’re doing it for more rational reasons and your children are still be allowed to have a somewhat normal social life then I applaud you! If not, then we might be at an impasse. I hope this clarifies my position in case anyone else comes along after you with a similar opposition.

  7. December 11, 2008 6:47 pm


    I’m concerned with this line “and the other was mostly ’cause I just enjoyed hanging out with the oldest one and want to hang out with the younger one.”

    My mother repeatedly tried to home school me because she “wanted more time” with me. There was no desire for educational benefit in these attempts, my mother was just harmfully protective and attached. The time I spent at home during these stints was not at all beneficial for me and was actually quite disruptive for my life.

    I just hope you do have your children’s best interests in mind and are not just fulfilling your own desire to spend more time with them.

    – Schev

  8. efilyzarcym permalink
    December 11, 2008 7:48 pm

    Sisyphus Fragment: Thanks for the clarification. Seriously, I came here just to agree with you….I hope that I didn’t step on too many toes with my return rants…LOL!! :)
    It just kinda caught me off guard.

    Good point. In responding to a post that had nothing to do with home schooling, I posted a very quick response to a comment I hadn’t expected….so, it wasn’t as “complete” as it should have been. I actually have a home school blog ( that I update pretty regularly about all of the lovely educational things that we do. Although I like hangin’ with my kid, I also know just how big the educational responsibilities are that I took on. Sometimes I am nervous that I am just fuckin’ her all up – – but, then I listen to her discussing things with other adults (or kids) and know that she is doing just fine. (I also have her tested with the PS kids to ensure that she is “on grade level” with the others….the test scores are also posted on my blog.)

    Sorry for blog-barging….this was actually a great topic!! I’ve kinda argued the same thing with folks I know….seperation of faith/church and state are (in my opinion) always the best choice.

  9. December 11, 2008 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the clarification and you’re welcome back anytime!

  10. Gabrielle Pren permalink
    December 12, 2008 12:14 am

    Just like a Christian cross does not really say ‘There is Christ in the Universe” so much as it says ‘There is Christ in me” (or in this building, grave, car etc), the Atheist symbol can and I think should be interpreted to mean “there is no god in me” or “there is no god in here” in which case I think it is appropriate that it appear in government buildings. It is the symbol of secularism. It’s important to distinguish between what individual atheists believe (some believe in aliens or homeopathy and some don’t for example. Some truly believe there is no god, creator etc, and some simply don’t care, as there is absolutely no evidence) and atheism, which “believes” in nothing. The treatment of the atheist symbol as a religious symbol and atheism as a religion is just another way for the religious to attack secularism, which they fear. The absence of disease is not a disease in itself – it’s called health.

  11. December 12, 2008 6:50 am

    Gabrielle, In a legal sense atheism is a religion, and it’s afforded the same protection that religions get. I think instead of the government saying “there is no god here” the word god shouldn’t be mentioned whether it’s negative or positive mention. I think you missed that point I was trying to make.

    A statement about religious faith, or lack thereof, being placed in a government building is the same thing under the eyes of the law and both are a violation of the Wall in my opinion and most courts agree with me. You are more than welcome and perfectly free to hold a differing opinion and I welcome you to come back and elaborate more or comment on other posts!

  12. December 12, 2008 8:52 am

    Painfully, I think you’re right. I think it’s painful to acknowledge that atheism-promotion has no place in government just as much as religion promotion has. I think FFRF were way out of line there.

    If people, including us atheists, want to peddle their religious views, then they shouldn’t do it while contaminating the religious neutrality that government must foster.

  13. December 12, 2008 9:48 am

    I agree about the sign. I think it sounds petty and mean and was a very bad move. There shouldn’t even be a sign, but if there must be, they could have made the message something positive for atheists, instead of something embarassing that makes us look bad.

  14. notreallyalice permalink
    December 12, 2008 12:44 pm

    I have mixed feelings about the sign. I think that, as an over-the-top way to communicate “get all these signs off the government property!” or a way to explicitly show how offense religion can be, I can say I support it. On the other hand, as you say, what the hell was FFRF thinking?? As a group that represents non-theists and trying to promote and normalize atheism, this was an utter failure. I think some atheists (i.e., whoever put the Washington sign up) are getting too big for their britches. It’s like gay marriage in California. I admit I was confident that my state would be liberal and compassionate when given the opportunity to vote on gay marriage, but I was wrong. Surely the advertizing had something to do with that. But I’m getting off the subject.

    But my point is that atheists are NOT there yet. The loud Christians with all the money do not want us around. They do not want us to exist. They are offended whether we put up a sign or not. So as a show of defiance, I will stand behind FFRF’s decision to put up such a sign. Let’s not forget that they are here to promote Freedom From Religion, and that may not always mean Fluffy Bunny Kumbaya. Would you be respectful to a man caught beating his wife? No; and in the same way, this group seems to be taking the offense against religion. Someone has to do it.

    But as an American and as a person who wants my atheism to be accepted in the public arena, as a person who wants her ideas to be able to compete in the marketplace of ideas, as a person who may want to run for public office someday, I will just say I’m very glad that I’ve never contributed to FFRF. That sign does not represent what I stand for.

  15. notreallyalice permalink
    December 12, 2008 12:47 pm

    Sorry that was really long =/

  16. December 12, 2008 2:06 pm

    That’s fine, I think you articulated your point very well. I agree with you, it’s a really sticky situation..

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