Fox: 'Atheist Outrage' over holiday 'Tree of Knowledge'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Monday December 3, 2007
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Fox & Friends launched a salvo in the War on Christmas Monday, attacking an atheist group's "tree of knowledge" erected in front of a Philadelphia courthouse alongside a creche and menorah, while ignoring a 32-foot tree dedicated to "commercial attraction" in the same public square.

The perky hosts objected because the Freethought Society of Great Philadelphia has set up a "Tree of Knowledge" as part of a seasonal display in front of the Chester County courthouse.

The center of the display is a 32-foot Christmas tree erected by the Chamber of Commerce. The president of the Chamber explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer that "this will be the 28th year in a row" for the display and that "we've always seen the tree as a commercial attraction."

A Christian creche and a Jewish menorah were added for the first time last year, and the Freethought Society asked to have its tree, which is decorated with the book covers of atheist works alongside the Bible and the Koran, included this year as well.

Margaret Downey, president of the Freethought Society, was invited by Fox News to debate regular Fox contributor Father Jonathan Morris about the display.

Downey began by rejecting Fox's suggestion that her group had pressured the commissioners into including them by threatening to prevent them from having any display at all. "We asked the commissioners last year to designate the area in front of the courthouse as a free speech zone," she stated. "And that enables everyone in the community to participate."

Father Jonathan's comments were frequently interrupted by Downey, but he appeared to be trying to make the point that he supports free speech but feels that Downey's group should have had the delicacy to refrain from exercising it.

"If we were living in anything but a 'free thought zone' in the United States of America, I would go with Margaret," he began. "But this is Christmas time, and to use ..."

"You do not own Christmas," Downey broke in. "You do not own the winter holiday."

"I don't think it's doing a service to that very good point of yours ... to sabotage a Christian holiday," Morris stated.

"Do you feel that intimidated?" Downey asked. "Do you feel so intimidated by our presence? Do you feel so intimidated that you can't even allow us to participate as a fellow citizen?"

"So many people who I work with on a daily basis, who are really struggling with faith, look and say, 'You know what? I'm embarrassed,'" said Morris. "Because you're an atheist, you're trying to say therefore we're going to sabotage what is a holiday, a religious holiday."

"You should not look at it as a sabotage," Downey responded. "Because your faith should be strong enough where anybody standing there with a question would not intimidate you."

This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast on December 3, 2007.