FFRF Offers $1500 Reward for Capture of Atheist-Sign Thieves

Regarding that atheist sign that was stolen in Streator, IL:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is offering a $1,500 reward “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s).”

Both the theft of the banner and vandalism to its supporting posts are classified as misdemeanors. Because FFRF’s nonreligious message was targeted, the act also qualifies as a Class 4 felony under Illinois’ hate crime law…

FFRF is working to place a new freethought banner as a replacement within a few days.

“It is so dismaying to see mob rule prevail,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. ” This vandalism amounts to censorship and [suppression] of minority viewpoints. This crime against our banner shows the harm when a local government purports to create a ‘public forum’ for religion on government property. The only viewpoint that is going to be heard in [Streator] is a Christian viewpoint. There are tax-exempt Christian churches throughout [Streator] where it is appropriate to place Christian crosses and displays. A public park is not one of them.”


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Cutencrunchy

    Christians would never vandalize or commit crimes it must have been Atheists.. 

    • Babs

      Atheists would not steal and vandalize an atheist banner.  Christians may have perpetrated the crimes.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-GK/507761207 Joe GK

         poe

  • FSq

    I am pledging an additional $250.

    • FSq

      I just phoned FFRF and gave them my credit card info and my pledge for an additional $250 for anyone who turns in the perps. I want to see them prosecuted and made examples of. I urge all who have a little extra money to do the same. 

  • Kmjarmin89

    Cutencrunchy, you’re an idiot.

    • Darwin’s Dagger

      Or maybe sarcastic. Failing to recognize sarcasm now that’s…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IGL3DLVVWOY3BS2K4CZPPXN2PQ Whut

    This sort of thing seems to happen quite often with Atheist bumper stickers, various signs and billboards. Why haven’t people learned to keep hidden  cameras or the likes aimed at these things to catch vandalism in the act?  It seems almost too easy a thing to catch because it happens so often, and yet nobody (?) does it. 

    • HA2

       That may be illegal, depending on the jurisdiction; IIRC, laws on that vary a lot. I suspect you should be quite careful about recording people without their knowledge or consent, and consult your lawyer before doing it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Meghan-ODonnell/304800100 Meghan ODonnell

         Not if you have a sticker that says “Video/Audio recording on the premises.” Even if it’s a really small sticker, I think it still counts, but it has to be conspicuous.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Actually, those signs aren’t so much for legal liability as they are to scare off criminals, and make them think twice abut doing something that might be caught on tape.

      • FSq

        It all depends on what your state laws are. In one-party states, it only requires that one party knows the recording is taking place – in other words, the person who placed the camera knows it is recording, so it is legal.

        Other states are two-party, where both need to have disclosure and knowledge.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          One-party and two-party generally refer to the recording of private conversations. I don’t know of anyplace in the U.S. where it is illegal to record things happening in public. Many courts have ruled on the matter- in a public setting, their can be no expectation of personal privacy. This is why security cameras are legal and unregulated. It’s why you can take pictures- even covertly- in public settings without getting the permission of everybody in the shots.

          I think there are some exceptions for commercial use of images, but that’s about it.

      • Anonymous

        Couldn’t you just put up a “wild life” camera in a tree and say oops look what we caught on video! Jailbirds!

  • Joeannwalker

    FFRF should add “Thou shalt not steal” to the replacement banner.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CO4XFS7IXIESALGRH5RJLDUTHE p

      and if we find out who did this we should crucify them. 

  • FSq

    I should add that I just sent out a short letter to the editor of the Ottaw Valley/Streator newspaper:

    To the Editor’s Desk;Recently the Freedom From Religion Foundation placed a sign on the Streator lawn in front of the public buildings. Streator has a statute that allows any and all religious signs or symbols to be displayed on public property – even though this is in direct opposition to constitutional law.The sign was placed behind another that promoted a Christian agenda for the holiday where Christian and Jesus enthusiasts worship what they refer to as a “Savior” who comes back from the dead, much like a modern day zombie in the many TV and movie shows. As expected, the atheist sign placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation – FFRF – was vandalized and stolen within a scant few days. It is no major leap of logic to conclude it was stolen by Christians. One of the tent’s of Christ followers is “thou shalt not steal”, yet here they are, defacing, and stealing property. As a result of this, the FFRF has offered a $1500 read for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and prosecution to the cowards who conducted this theft and vandalization. As a concerned American, I have pledged an additional $250. The FFRF nonreligious message was targeted because of said message, qualifying the theft as a Class 4 felony under Illinois’ hate crime law. The Streator law enforcement, sheriff’s office and state troopers need to treat this as such and use their resources to find and arrest the perps under this statute.I am disgusted by this act, and call out the “Christians” who did this as hypocrites.

    With regards,

    XXXXXXXXXX

    • Alex

      How does allowing citizens express themselves violate the Constitution? I thought that was right there in the 1st amendment, next to freedom of religion.

      Now, I’m no constitutional scholar, but the way I see it, the right move here would be to prosecute the offenders to the full extent of the law and to continue allowing people to post whatever religious or philosophical messages they want (save for hate speech or sedition, where a reasonable argument may be made against allowing that in public). Banning (anti)religious displays really does nothing other than further restricting freedom of speech. The atheist banners should not be viewed as protest to current policies, but to religion in general. By disallowing any religiously-themed displays in public square we go back to quietly acknowledging christian supremacy without any possibility of countering it.

      Your suggestions?

      • Coyotenose

         It violates the Constitution because it’s use of public property to promote a religion. As public property belongs to everyone and is bought and maintained with tax money, this is exactly equal to forcing citizens to pay to advertise someone else’s religion.

  • chicago dyke, venomous lesbian

    at least one commenter here totally predicted this would happen…

    • Coyotenose

       Let’s be honest though, that’s like predicting that Sarah Palin will say something ignorant.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    So, does the reward cover gathering evidence about who steals the replacement sign?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Two days. That has to be some kind of record for this kind of thing.

  • Nude0007

    in most states (like Ms) even if the law says video is not admissible in court, you can still use it to identify the suspects giving you probable cause to question and search them. You just can’t show the incriminating video in court.  That big house behind the photo accompanying this article looks perfect to catch them.
    I bet the police will not pursue this very hard if at all, though. That’s what usually happens. It’s hard to find a local policeman who is going to go against his religion to do his job in a  case like this, because “no one was really hurt” by it. Please tell the FFRF to get permission to mount a video camera in that house or close by.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X