The Freedom From Religion Foundation has issued a $2,000 reward for information on who vandalized its anti-nativity scene display at a city park in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
"It seems there is no peace, good will to all in Arlington Heights," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. "This is not just a heckler's veto, it's an attack on free speech in a public forum that is supposed to be open to all. This vandalism says the park belongs only to Christians — everyone else is an outsider."
The display apparently featured a solstice sign, as well as a large "A" for atheism light display. A metal sign depicting a "nativity" Bill of Rights scene celebrating the freethought point of view was also vandalized.
The secular group has seen its displays in Chicago slashed to shreds in previous years as well.
Tom Cara, president of the Chicago chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said that the group considers the incident a hate crime.
"We're very disappointed, obviously, that this would happen in a very progressive area, a very tolerant area," Cara said, according to The Chicago Tribune.
"We are offering a reward for any information leading to a determination of who has done this," he added, referring to the $2,000 reward.
Steve Scholten, the executive director of the Arlington Heights Park District, said that the display was protected under freedom of speech.
"The maintenance of those things is the responsibility of the owners of those signs," Scholten said.
"Obviously, we would encourage people to understand that this is an expression of freedom of speech and to not vandalize any of the displays out there."
On Monday, FFRF announced that it is also placing its 'Bill of Rights nativity" banner at the Florida State Capitol. The banner is meant to celebrate Dec. 15, the anniversary of adoption of the Bill of Rights, as well as the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21.
The message reads: "At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government."
The FFRF banner will go up at the Florida capitol for the second year, while The Satanic Temple group has been granted for the first time the right to stage its own display.
The Satanic Temple display, which was rejected by the Department of Management Services in all previous years, features a biblical scene found in Isaiah 14:12, which shows Satan descending into hell.