The Worldnetdaily has its typically bizarre headline on this article: Blue state has moxy to mock God. But the article is about the sign put up by the FFRF in Springfield, Illinois. So it has nothing to do with a state. And the sign doesn’t “mock God.” To be fair, while the subject and predicate are both wrong, the words “has” and “to” do appear to be used accurately. The rest of the article is mostly nonsense. The sign in question says:
“There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
I really dislike this sign, as I’ve said many times, and I don’t think the FFRF should ever use it again. But one local guy just screaming for attention says it should be banned because it’s “hate speech.”
It’s hard to tell here whether Kelly is the bonehead or if the unnamed reporter who wrote the article (in all likelihood, both are). The constitution forbids hostility by the government against religion, and only in very narrow contexts. But this is not government speech. The city of Springfield has declared the space a limited public forum, which means community groups can put their own signs there that represent their point of view. So it isn’t even the city “mocking God,” much less the state.
William J. Kelly…called the sign, posted by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, hate speech because it attacks the faith of others.
He’s reviving his effort against what he calls the government’s lack of neutrality in a statement about the sign, which is being posted again at the Springfield, Ill., capitol building and elsewhere across the nation.
He points out that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires accommodation for religion and forbids “hostility,” which is what he says the anti-religion posting represents.
“What they’re actually doing, in my opinion, is hate speech against Christianity,” he told WND. “There’s this argument that this is somehow free speech. That would not hold up if I somehow engaged in some variation … bashing other religions.’
He said it is faith that has made America great, and the Constitution provides for recognition of that.
“This type of hate speech is wrong,” he said.
Even if he were right (and he’s not — the sign is needlessly aggressive, but not hateful), he doesn’t seem to realize that in American law there is no such thing as hate speech. You can call anything you want “hate speech” but the law recognizes no such thing. There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. There is absolutely no doubt that the statement on the sign is protected under the First Amendment. And yes, you are just as free to bash other religions, as I’m sure you do every day.