Vicious Atheism at the State House Deserves Thoughtful Response


Ted Nesi tweeted out a picture of the annual Christmas Insult poster from the Freedom From Religious Foundation:

I wrote about this display back in 2013, and the key point is only emphasized in this time of deep division and distrust.  It wouldn’t be difficult to design objective, non-sectarian policies that would disallow mean, petty people like these fundamentalist atheists from insulting visitors to the State House while allowing diversity of views.

In the meantime, though, it’d be great if Rhode Islanders came up with creative responses.  Sadly, John DePetro appears to be out of commission for the moment, but it’d be great if somebody were to make a poster of Donald Trump’s Christmas card from last year and insist on displaying it at the State House:

I’d love to see how the “tolerant” crowd would react to that display.

  • Mike678

    Merry Christmas!

  • tyrannystopper


  • Rhett Hardwick
  • devilsadvocateri

    i could think of reasons to impeach gina, but this wouldn’t be one. she was picky about the christmas tree instead of picky about what to call it. but i don’t see anything wrong with this sign. i don’t think it can spoil christmas for a believer, in whatever vein. It does make you feel sad for the folks who felt the necessity to erect it but you can’t save people from themselves . . . come to think of it, i think that is supposed to god’s job.

    • Max

      I don’t have a problem with the sign either but what a miserable life one must lead when their purpose in life is to expend negative energy. They will tell you it’s about the Constitution but obviously their own words reveal their true intentions, raining on other peoples parade. Very sad.

    • Justin Katz

      Well, sure, no printed material should spoil the season for a believer. But read the whole sign. It’s intended to insult. There’s no “joy of the season” in it. People should be free to express their beliefs, but there’s no reason the state can’t put some guidelines on holiday displays requiring that they not be designed as attack ads. Surely a mature society can see the difference.

  • oceanstater

    well, two can play the game of being in your face as religious zealots are so often inclined to do, for example insisting on “Christmas tree” instead of “holiday tree” in public spaces. Once you let one religious viewpoint into a public space, you have to let them all. And I don’t see what is “vicious” about “let reason prevail” – sounds like a good message and better than superstition.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      It has often been observed that atheists spend more time talking about God than do believers. Referring to a “Holiday Tree” begs the question “What holiday?” (holiday is of course a contraction of Holy Day), If the holiday is Christmas, why not call it what it is, a Christmas Tree? Doesn’t “Celebrating diversity” require us to not minimize the faith and beliefs of others. Would anyone dare post a sign that Mohammed was a phony?

      • oceanstater

        I appreciate your response, though I wonder who could have observed atheists talking about God so often, not likely true. As for the “holiday” it is of course the winter solstice, celebrated with lights by many in northern climates and adopted by Christians, Jews (i,e, hannukah) from earlier festivals. A fir tree or spruce is not erspecially Middle Eastern, and most don’t think Jesus was actually born in December. So “holiday tree” is really more accurate, but it is now tied up in silly politics.
        By the way, I have no objection to Christians putting up Christian displays in the State House, they are often interesting or beautiful, nor do I object to any other religious view either, including atheism, in this case also interesting. I do think the state should be officially neutral as is constitutionally required.

        • Rhett Hardwick

          I have no idea of your experience. But, I have certainly had a number of atheists start a conversation with me about how there is no God. Far more often than I have had believers start conversations about “there is a God. I wrote “it has been observed” because other people have mentioned the same phenomena to me. For myself, my mother was catholic and my father protestant. They compromised and raised me as a agnostic. As for the Christmas tree, I have always understood it to be of Germanic origin, adopted by other Europeans, I believe that the Hanukkah bush is a very recent North American innovation. I have heard all the tales of pagan holidays being replaced by Christmas. But, without the declaration of Christmas, they would have been consigned to the dustbin of history. For myself, I would never consider erecting a decorated tree to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Have you ever noticed that Christians “celebrate” holidays, while Jews “observe” them? I wonder if I could start a movement to “observe diversity”.

    • Justin Katz

      Read the whole sign. It’s designed to be an insult. I’d also disagree with a Christmas display that said something like, “Believe or you’re going to Hell.” You might argue that such a statement is intrinsic to Christian belief, but there’s a clear difference — critical to pluralism — between a display wishing peace and good will toward all people and one belittling one’s neighbors.