Members of the nation's largest atheist group are celebrating a victory in Shelton, Connecticut, where they're displaying a message this Christmas season that claims God doesn't exist and religion "enslaves minds."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said its members were originally denied permission last year to display their banner in Huntington Park because city officials said their message saying there is no God or Heaven would be "offensive to many." But after FFRF filed a lawsuit in March, the members have since been allowed to display their red and green banner featuring an anti-Christian and anti-religion message.
The group says it's seeking equal representation, and argues that if others are allowed to put up a nativity scene in a public space, atheist messages should also be permitted.
"We'd prefer to keep public parks and government buildings free from religious divisiveness," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. "But if a devotional nativity display is allowed, there must be 'room at the inn' for all points of view, including irreverence and freethought."
The message reads in full: "At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
The Valley Independent Sentinel reports that the lawsuit is still pending in federal court, but the city has allowed the atheist group to put up their display.
FFRF has gone after numerous displays of the Bible in both Connecticut and other states. Earlier in November, its threat of legal action forced a Connecticut public charter school to demand that one of its employees remove the display of a Bible verse outside a classroom.
The verse was Philippians 4:13, which reads, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me." It was deemed "unconstitutional" by the FFRF.
"The display alienates those nonreligious students, families, teachers, and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the messages being promoted by the school," the FFRF said in its letter to James Michel, the chair of the board.
There have been a number of atheist groups putting up secular-themed billboards and messages across the country this December. American Atheists, another major secular group, is encouraging people to "skip church" in one of its billboards, seeking to reach the growing number of non-believers in the country.
"It is important for people to know religion has nothing to do with being a good person, and that being open and honest about what you believe — and don't believe — is the best gift you can give this holiday season," said David Silverman, president of American Atheists.