A sign outside a firehouse in Utica, New York, reading “Happy Birthday Jesus We Love You” is making atheists angry because they believe it violates the Constitution.
Atheist organization The Freedom from Religion Foundation is now demanding that the sign be taken down immediately.
The organization has sent two notes to Utica area authorities, the first to fire chief Russell Brooks in April 2014, and the second to Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri on December 10th.
Brooks ignored the earlier complaints because the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative legal firm, advised him that the sign was constitutional after a complaint by the ACLU in 2007.
He stated in his response to the Freedom from Religion Foundation: “I was advised by the Thomas Law Center Center that we were well within our tights to display our Christmas sign. In addition, they would support us, as well as any efforts from any organizations looking to prevent us from doing so.”
FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert said in her letter to the mayor: “The sign at Fire Station 4 explicitly invokes the name Jesus, an exclusively Christian god, and makes a direct statement in support of that deity (“WE LOVE YOU”), on behalf of the station and City. This is precisely the sort of religious endorsement prohibited by the Establishment Clause.”
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor stated:
“How would Brooks feel if his local government put up a sign saying, ‘Happy Birthday, Mohammed. We love you!’? This sign is equally inappropriate because government bodies should not take sides on religion.”
What do you think about the firehouse sign?
h/t: the Blaze
Photo credit: Freedom From Religion Foundation
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.