September 7, 2006

Making a Difference in One's Community

god bless america
The following post appeared on Atheist Revolution back in 2006. It describes how an atheist with the courage to complain about an obvious church-state violation made a difference in his community. 

This article in The Lompoc Record (California) by Neil Nisperos describes the inspirational story of Lompoc, CA, resident Matt Hughes. I thought this was a great example of how a single atheist activist can make a difference in one's local community.

Hughes grew tired of seeing a "God Bless America" poster hanging in the Post Office and decided to do something about it. Specifically, he complained to a postal supervisor. As you might expect, the response he received was less than encouraging. "That's not coming down. You can complain to Washington if you want, but it's not coming down." However, it did come down approximately a week later. End of story? Not quite.

Not surprisingly, an undisclosed number of post office employees were offended by the postmaster's removal of the poster. Why? One woman apparently viewed the action as being unpatriotic. "We're just upset and we're offended that we can't show support for our country." Really? Who is stopping her from supporting America? Something tells me that the American flag was not removed from the post office - just the god poster. Another man seemed to view the removal of the poster as some kind of infringement of his rights to decorate his workplace. Seriously?

What does Hughes think about these complaints? "They posted a religious expression, in this case, a prayer, and it's not the business of our government to be promoting religion." I agree. Hughes' response to the removal of the poster was great too.
For some people, their god is named Jehovah or Allah. Some people worship Buddha. Some people worship the flying spaghetti monster. But the Christians and Jews have named their god, God with the capital G, and that's whose god was listed in the post office. If there is a god, I would wish he would bless everyone - not just America.
Bravo! Not only did he accomplish his goal of having the post office remove an offensive religious symbol from a government building, he expressed himself well to the news media covering the story.

For more, see How to Complain About a Church-State Violation.