(Photo Courtesy Erin Kiekbusch, http://kcirishparade.com/)
An atheist organization in Missouri banned from taking part in a citywide St. Patrick's Day Parade has stated that it will participate despite the ban.
According to Fox 4 of Kansas City, the leader of the Kansas City Atheist Coalition announced earlier this week that his organization would hold an event along the parade route titled "Ask an Atheist."
"We want to help people understand that atheism is not a negative worldview," said Josh Hyde, vice president of the KCAC, in a statement.
"As atheists, we believe it is up to us – not a deity – to make the world a better place, which is why we do volunteer work, raise money for charity and work to promote equality and human rights."
Last month, the KCAC submitted an application to be part of the city's annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade, set to be held Sunday.
However, the application was rejected. Sarah Hargreaves, a member of the KCAC, told Fox 4 that the rejection was "discrimination."
"The idea that they are presenting now that this is a very Catholic event and they were celebrating the patron saint and his Christian legacy, I think makes for a good response but I don't think that's their reason," said Hargreaves.
"I think people on the parade committee are personally offended by atheists in a similar way that there are people in this country that are offended at the existence of people who are gay."
Organized by a group of private volunteers since the 1970s, Kansas City's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is listed on its website as a nonprofit 501C3 corporation.
In addition to the parade, festivities included in the celebration include a Gaelic Mass at Redemptorist Catholic Church and a food drive. Fr. Patrick Tobin will be this year's Grand Marshall.
Erin Kiekbusch of the parade board of directors forwarded a statement to The Christian Post from the 2013 Parade Co-Chairs Sharon Bundy and Anne McKeown.
"Kansas City's parade celebrates the Feast Day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and the Christian teachings and beliefs that he lived and suffered for. The Atheist Coalition's published mission is to advance godlessness through activism," reads the statement.
"[Its] stated intent regarding the 2013 parade was to carry banners with phrases such as 'positively godless' and 'morals without mythology.' It was with respect for the legacy of St. Patrick that the parade committee turned down the Atheist Coalition's application to participate in this year's procession."