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Atheist Group Removes 'God Bless America' Sign but Residents Put Up 1500 More

Atheist Group Removes 'God Bless America' Sign but Residents Put Up 1500 More

A decal reading "God Bless America" is seen on the wall of the soup kitchen in the basement of the St. Leo Catholic Church in Detroit December 17, 2011. | (Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Residents in Pittsburg, Kansas have placed over 1,000 "God Bless America" signs throughout their town after a national atheist organization ordered the local post office to remove a banner with the same phrase.

The Pittsburg Post Office had installed a large "God Bless America" banner hanging outside of its building after the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

Recently, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded the small town government building remove the banner, arguing that it violated a separation of church and state.

"We're very pleased that the post office took the right steps to separate church and state and abide by the post office regulations," Madeline Ziegler, a legal fellow at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said in a statement to The Joplin Globe.

Shortly after the banner was removed, the owner of Jake's Fireworks, a local business, decided to print 1,200 "God Bless America" yard signs and 300 banners to be placed around town.

As The Morning Sun reports, dozens of vehicles lined up in front of Jake's Fireworks over the weekend to pick up a "God Bless America" sign.

"Obviously, we're among the majority that didn't agree with the decision to take the sign down (at the post office)," Jason Marietta, retail sales director for the local business, told The Morning Sun.

Ed Hinde, who served as postmaster at the Pittsburg office for over a decade, told The Joplin Globe that he and his employees decided to install the original banner as a sign of solidarity after the 2001 terror attacks.

The former postmaster added that the employees paid for half of the banner, and he paid for the other half.

"This banner had nothing to do with religion," Hinde told the local media outlet. "It was to commemorate 3,000 people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and to instill patriotism."

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran has voiced his approval of the community's response, saying he finds it "outrageous that some would aim to divide a community over a banner that has been proudly displayed since Sept. 11, 2001," adding that he "[commends] the Pittsburg community for rejecting this decision."

"I stand with them. The Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This banner is not only an expression of faith, but of love for country," Moran continued, adding, "Expressions of patriotism, faith, and community should be welcome in our society and I have contacted USPS officials to express my concerns about their decision and to request their reconsideration."

"If the local post office branch is unwilling to display the banner, then I would be proud to hang it at my own office in Pittsburg," the senator added. 

Holly Cranston, a physician in Pittsburg, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that she plans to put the signs in front of her business.

"I think most of the people that come to the clinic know I am a Christian," Cranston said. "And if it bothers them, then they have other physicians to choose from that they can go to in the community that may not be as vocal as I am about my beliefs."


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