Pennsylvania man cites Newtown while ripping down atheist holiday display

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, December 21, 2012 13:43 EDT
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Pennsylvania resident Joe McDonald. Photo: Screenshot via WNEP-TV.
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A banner that was recently hung in a public space by a local atheist group in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania got chopped down this week by a young man who cited the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut as his reason.

Local news channel WNEP-TV filmed the man, who identified himself as Joe McDonald, climbing 30 feet up to where the banner was hung, cutting it down, and replacing it with an American flag.

“I just think in the light of the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, that we shouldn’t be divided as a country over petty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God,” McDonald reportedly said. “If they wanted to put the sign down here with us, that’s fine because we’re united. But to put it above everybody? No, it’s symbolic.”

The banner was placed in a public space where other groups have erected holiday displays like a Nativity and a Menorah. The Freedom From Religion Foundation paid the city $50 to hang the banner for one week.

This video is from WNEP-TV 16 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, aired Thursday, December 20, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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