Freethought Society Holds Tree of Knowledge Rally in Front of Pennsylvania Courthouse

The Freethought Society was recently banned (for the second time) from putting up their Tree of Knowledge in front of the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, they held a rally in front of the courthouse to protest their exclusion (and formed the Human Tree of Knowledge seen below).

Credit: Tom Kelly IV - Daily Local News

Staks Rosch was there and offered a few highlights:

… Freethought Society president, Margaret Downey, spoke about our exclusion, discrimination of atheists, and how she was contacted by a young couple who wanted to bring their children to see the Tree of Knowledge. Downey had to sadly inform them that the County Commissioners won’t allow atheists to participate.

Downey also encouraged atheists to put up their own Tree of Knowledge in their home and establish the Tree as a freethought tradition during the cold winter season.

Creating your own Tree is great from a personal standpoint, but it does nothing to educate the public, which is what this rally was really about. As far as the city is concerned, I’m sure they’re just happy the rally is over and they don’t have to deal with the Freethought Society again, at least not for another year. The question is how (and whether it’s possible) to keep this story alive and pressure the city into including the Tree of Knowledge as a display in years to come.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://snigsfoot.blogspot.com/ Rob Crompton

    A tree of knowledge doesn’t have to be tied to the Christmas season so surely there’s no need to wait until next year to start campaigning.
    Or why not pair it with a tree of life for the spring and summer and a tree of knowledge for the autumn and winter?

  • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

    I just added a video from the event to my article and a link to my defense of the Tree of Knowledge from last year.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

    margaretdowney.com

  • http://twitter.com/Grikmeer Rob Grikmeer

    Is it just me or did they miss the last ‘e’ from knowledge? I agree with the principle, but that doesn’t look like a good advert ;)

    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      My toddler moved the weights from the bottom of the sign and so it rolled up a little cutting off the “e.”

  • Jennifer

    I would say that since Christmas is a religious holiday, secularists have no place displaying anything that does not relate to that holiday in a public place. Christmas is a national holiday – our country was based on Christian principles, not atheistic ones. Atheists are free to believe what they want, and put up displays on their own private property, but not to change the very foundations of the country.

    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      Wow, there is so much wrong with this comment that I don’t know where to even begin.

    • AnonAtheist

      Sorry, Jennifer, but America was not “founded on Christian principles”.  The Constitution, which is the highest law of the land, does not mention Yahweh or Jesus even once, and the only mentions of religion in it are to exclude religious tests as a requirement for holding office and to make sure that Congress stays neutral on matters of religion.  In short, America was founded on secular principles which are neutral towards religion.

      Still think America was founded on Christian principles?  Well, prove it.

    • Rich Wilson

       put up displays on their own private property

      Hey!  Now there’s an idea that’s good for everyone!

    • Anonymous

      Christmas is a secular holiday open to people of all faiths and none.  See here for further details.

      America is based on secular principles.  Try reading the Bill of Rights.  Christians are free to believe what they want, and to put up displays on their own private property too.  It is a problem when the state endorses a religion but using public funds to promote a particular religious belief.  This is probably enshrined in some kind of document that you might think would be important to Americans.

  • Anonymous

    It amazes me how many Christians mindlessly accept fictions foisted on them like the false notion that our country was founded on Christian principles, when the single most important document in the formation of our nation is the Constitution, which clearly states that our government is not to endorse any religion. Clearly, many of the earliest settlers were Christian, but not all…and certainly the Founders, those who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, bent over backwards to ensure religion was kept out of government.

  • Octavian

    So why “in God We Trust” is the
    official motto of the United
    States? And here it is why,  the scientist can’t explain the 3-D Universe
    without bringing into equations more than 4 dimensions (7 dimensions) so I
    guess the 3-D World model is not a “Bottom Up” one… it is a “Top
    Bottom” model! I do not care if the Christians call those super dimensions
    “God” and the Atheists call it One Super Dimension of Space… it is
    the same thing… and it is Awesome

    • Rich Wilson

      I’m just amused that you use “Bottom and Up and Top” in your description of the ’3-D Universe’.

      • Rich Wilson

        Don’t know why this took me so long- slow day I guess.

        the scientist can’t explain the five elements (earth, air, water, fire, spirit) without bringing in another 118 elements

        and it is Awesome

    • Anonymous

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