A Christian activist group placed a banner over an atheist display at Chicago’s Daley Plaza proclaiming that “A is for Angels.”
The banner covers a sign set up earlier this month by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that explained that an 8.5-foot lighted “A” stood for “atheists” as part of a protest of Christmas-themed items on the public square.
The activists clashed Thursday with atheists at Daley Plaza over the banner, saying that objections to the counter-protest were inhibiting their constitutional rights.
“You shouldn’t be protesting the ‘A.’ Protesting the ‘A’ means you are surrendering our freedom of speech,” said a woman who described herself as a Christian activist. “Everybody should have their opportunity to speak here.”
She suggested that anyone who disagreed with her to “go back and read the Constitution.”
The atheist display celebrates the “season of the Winter Solstice,” and shows constitutional framers Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, as well as the Statue of Liberty, standing or kneeling in adoration of the founding document, which was adopted Dec. 15, 1791, lying in a manger.
“We celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun – the TRUE reason for the season,” the banner reads. “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.”
William Kelly, chairman of the Remember America Foundation, said that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel should never have granted the atheist group permission to set up their display.
“I think if you actually read the text of the atheist display it’s actually more hate speech,” Kelly said. “It’s really not adding anything to the Christmas spirit, it’s really not even telling anybody who they really are or what they believe or what they want for society. They’re just saying they don’t like Christianity.”
He said the display could be upsetting to families with children who expect to encounter a Christmas tree or Nativity scene, but not atheist symbols that criticize their religious beliefs.
“The message that I’m bringing here today is that, as Christians, and especially at Christmas time, we’re here to spread a message of love,” Kelly said.
That’s exactly why the Christian activists printed up a banner, brought it to Daley Plaza to cover up the atheist display and berated onlookers who questioned them, he said.
“What we’re hoping that it’s possible that if we as Christians show our love and support for our atheist brothers and sisters that maybe, maybe they might be more tolerant toward Christian values, not only you know, at Christmas time, but the entire year, as well,” Kelly said.