New Atheist Banner in Streator, Illinois Goes Up… with a Message to Potential Vandals

Over the weekend, an atheist sign was stolen in Streator, IL:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation offered a $1,500 reward for the capture of the perpetrators, but no one has been caught just yet…

In the meantime, FFRF has put up another sign in the same location. This time, though, there’s a message for anyone thinking of taking it:

The replacement banner features a new message to “sinful” Christians “P.S. your god says, ‘thou shalt not steal.’”

“We are floored by this recent act of discrimination and vandalism against a minority group. This situation exemplifies the harm in blending city government and religion,” noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “We can only hope that our new banner is afforded the same treatment as the religious cross display and remains unharmed.”

I give it a day…

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.

  • Onamission5

    I give it until tonight.

    But hey, they took my idea about the whole sin thing, sort of!

  • Coyotenose

    I’ll lay my bet on “A Christian steals THEIR sign so they can say, ‘Oh look, the atheists are hypocrites!’”

    Unfortunately, chances are that we’ll never know for sure. And no, I don’t think they’re all like this, but I’ve talked to enough tit-for-tat conspiracy theory types to know that some of them would do it just because they’re sure the FFRF stole their own sign the first time, and therefore it’s okay to pull the “same trick”.

    • kagekiri

      You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they justified it by saying that “God also says not to murder, but you can do so in his name” or some other special pleading like “blasphemy means you’re breaking God’s rules, so we can break them too” (just like a two year old).

      Just like all those other Christians who insult atheists and threaten them with death (committing thought-crime murder worthy of damnation, according to Jesus)  because of the atheists are committing blasphemy.

      When called on the sin of insults and anger, they’re offended that an atheist deigns to teach them their own religion, or they say we don’t get to judge them because we have no standards, or that “the Devil can quote Scripture to his own end”, or they pull the “no perfect Christians” or the No True Scotsman crap.It’s so weird how even they don’t like others applying the Bible’s standards to them, yet they’re incredibly eager to apply the same standards to the rest of the world.Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “weird”? I meant “unbelievably hypocritical.”

      • Sfugley

        Why is it non-faiths constantly talk about religion and people of faith don’t?  Talk about hypocritical, you all will continue to spend that in god we trust money!!  If it offends you so to even think about him take it out of your pocket or it might tramatize you.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.m.chase Justin Chase

    Someone should make a sign that says “How exactly does someone else dying change my responsibility for my actions anyway?”

    • http://churchofthecasualchristian.blogspot.com Pryopizm

       They’re not even your actions, really.  They’re actions you may or may not have commited that are evil simply because two people a long, long time ago, ate a fruit that was forbidden for absolutely no reason except so a snake could tempt them.  And the eating of that fruit cursed us all. 

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • Heather Adams

      But Jesus died for their right to steal that sign… wait, that’s not how it works. Jesus died so that they could be forgiven for stealing the sign. Christianity: the epitome of personal responsibility.

      • Will Ross

        I can’t see how that makes sense. I think it’s more like:

        1. We are all imperfect: accept it.
        2. Life isn’t always fair
        3. Sometimes the good guys have to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.
        4. In the end, it all balances out, so cut yourselves some slack and get on with making the world better.

        The stories are just metaphors to help us understand and accept the underlying principles. As atheists, we no longer need the stories, but the principles still make good sense to me.

        • James Campbell

          ..or more accurately the Bible stories are parables.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Harding/1322662990 Tiffany Harding

      Further to that, didn’t we just have to endure a Christian holiday about him coming back to life?  according to the mythology he didn’t exactly stay dead now did he?  so what is it Christians, “he died for you” or “he is risen”.    *sigh*

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

        “Jesus once had a very, very bad weekend for our sins.”

        • ScarabDrowner

           But he got better.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            “It gets better”

      • Annie

        I wish I could like this more than once…

      • hoverFrog

        “For God so loved the world, that he lent his only begotten Son”

        • Will Ross

          Nice, but not quite right. He died, popped back for a flying visit and then went back to being dead.

          Whilst living forever in paradise, like the rest of us will. Or not.

          And, admittedly, being on call to help us out with any teething problems redeemed humanity might face. 

          Or something.

      • Sfugley

        He comes back every Easter for a tune up!!

    • kagekiri

      You know, I actually ended up in that alley of crazy during my time in Christianity.

      I was wallowing in self-hatred that is part and parcel of the “unworthy sinner” part of Christianity, and started realizing that I was being a coward by accepting Jesus dying for my sins.

      A real man of God ought to die for his own sins, like he deserved, and not give Jesus the extra burden. I started praying to be killed, to let God send me to hell where I belonged, started self-abusing, all sorts of crap to try and alleviate the guilt of killing Jesus.

      ….

      ……

      It seemed logical at the time to my incredibly depressed and constantly brain-washed mind.

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

         Yikes!  That is one hell of a story and emotional rollercoaster you went through.  Thank you for sharing your story.  I’m glad you’re here with us now.  *big hugs*

      • hoverFrog

        At least you got better.  Some people never recover from being Christian.

    • hoverFrog

      Substitution atonement theology makes no sense.

      • Anonymous-Sam

        Literal scapegoat. It’s an old practice, predates Jesus while still having roots in Christianity. Exodus 29:10-14 describes the ritual of a sin offering, in which a bull is mutilated and burnt to absolve the priest of any sins.

        • hoverFrog

          Whether someone sacrifices a bull, a virgin or an apocalyptic prophet it still makes no sense.  One cannot correct a wrong by doing another thing wrong.

  • Lou Morris

    [Checks watch.]
    And it’s probably already gone by now…

  • Justin Miyundees

    Someone should catch the vandals on video and roast their asses in court.  In place of that, maybe a reward?  Frail egos usually need to boast and since they’re the way they are, someone would probably jump at a chance to rat on a prick.

    • Justin Miyundees

      Oh – sorry – I skipped over the mention of the reward…. duh……

  • Livingnoz

    Why are they so afraid to leave it up?

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Perhaps because for some of them, their certainty of their belief is so extremely tenuous, as gossamer as a 20-year-old cobweb, that any contradicting statement is terrifying to them.  Even whispered gently, a doubt-provoking statement sounds to them like the roaring of a lion.

      • Michael

        I agree. The weaker a person’s faith the more they will fight to avoid it being challenged. Freud said something about it that slipped my mind.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        There are some of the usual arguments out of cognitive dissonance here 
        http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/10/11125523-reward-1500-for-arrest-in-case-of-stolen-atheist-banner

        Including that since Atheists are having religions signs taken down, that it’s ok.  Ignoring of course the religions signs in the very same park that are the reason for this very sign to be up in the first place.

        It takes real blinders.

        • Sfugley

          Right on the money Mr. Wilson!! Put blinders on and it shouldn’t bother you. Is that Understanding to you Miss Ahlquist and the ACLU?

        • Sfugley

          Just a question for you non-faiths. When you pass on your final resting place will be piece or pieces of land that have been blessed by some religious denomination. Is this going to be offensive to you to know this or do all of you get cremated and pollute our land or waterways?

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
            • Sfugley

              I will listen to that vidieo at another venue. my only access to a computer is the library.

            • Sfugley

              I’m going to enjoy debating you. Remember to put blinders on as you say or maybe start a non-faith community kind of on the idea of the Amish! I will always remember that quote. That’s all you non-faiths have to do and us people of faith and we can all get along!

      • Sfugley

        Then why bust our nads when we want to keep it up in other places. Nobody forces you to adhere to it. Your belief is your belief. I think it is you non-faiths that are terrified of contradicting statements. What would you do Mr.Wade if a very good friend of yours asked you to be his best man at his wedding and he was jewish? You would have to wear a Yamaka for the service as required. Would you tolerate an adhere to that faiths tradition for an hour for. would you recite their prayers for the sake of your very good friend?

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          You don’t make sense here. My reply was to Livingnoz who was asking why they, apparently the Christians, are so afraid to leave our sign up.  We’re not tearing down their signs, they’re tearing down ours.  We simply want the right to make our own statement without interference. I support their freedom of speech, but they want privilege. They want an exclusive use of public land to express their views, and they seem to think that it is justifiable to censor others.  That is based on their fear and insecurity. 

          As for your other question which I also can’t quite make sense out of, actually I have participated in several religious ceremonies and rituals, some with yarmulke included, as a guest for the sake of friends who asked me. No problem for me. Why should it be?

          • Sfugley

            I apologize Mr. Wade, I get ahead of myself  often.  We are not looking to be exclusive, we are looking for tolerance as you tolerated  theism at those ceremonies.

    • hoverFrog

      Cognitive dissonance.  As long as their faith isn’t challenged then they don’t have to confront the dissonance that they feel about Christian hypocrisy, good non-believers, a lack of evidence for their myths, the fact that they are tithing when they have no money to spare to pay for a pastor’s flash new suit, car and his wife’s $100 hair do, etc.  If they strike back they suppress this niggling little voice of reason for a time.

  • Justin Miyundees

    If you put up “Vicarious Redemption is a Myth” there’d be little opposition because they’re not about to pick up a dictionary and wouldn’t dare discuss the concept – someone might get wise.  

    It would be great would be to gather together to drive a goat out of the city limits.  Get everyone to come to the town square with all their woes – write them down, attach them to the goat and drive it out of town with great fanfare.  The whole concept of vicarious redemption comes directly from the myth of the scapegoat so it might ring some bells.

  • Santiago

    “P.S. your god says, ‘thou shalt not steal.”
    :)

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    P.S. your god says, ‘thou shalt not steal.’

    My money is on vandalism, not outright theft.  ’Cause you know, that’s different.

  • http://lizheywoodwriter.blogspot.com/ Liz Heywood

    Instead of “PS, your god says thou shalt not steal,” I would’ve said “Security camera on premises.” ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    It will probably be stolen anyway because God forgives anything Christians do–except for being gay.

    • dauntless

      Yeah. Don’t pray for a bike… steal a bike and pray for forgiveness.

  • pagansister

    Thou shalt not steal unless it is for the good of the faith—-and it is good to take down things that actually might cause someone to question THE faith.    

  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    put a camera on it.

  • nuwrldman

    Back-sliding Christians can always redeem themselves if they pretend really hard that they didn’t mean or say or do the things they really meant and did and said. Apparently belief in Jesus is the religious “get out of hell free” card for illegal and bad behavior, with no personal responsibility.

  • Will Ross

    In the UK, it would almost certainly have been taken down because it’s big, yellow and ugly. Regardless of the message.

  • Still in hiding, sorry

    Assuming the perpetrators are Christians, I sincerely doubt that the they’ll see it as stealing, or vandalism.

    To them, the banner is blasphemy, and so they will feel secure that their actions follow a “higher law”.

    However, the more times they tear it down, the more coverage we get.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

    Shouldn’t it be “P.S. your Holy Book says, ‘thou shalt not steal.’” instead?  As I recall, the FFRF are nonbelieving freethinkers; thus, they think the God in question does not exist, but most would concede the existence of the book as a mere material object.

  • Parse

    Silly atheists, don’t you know that “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is part of the Old Covenant, and because of Jesus, all those rules don’t matter any more! </sarcasm>
    Isn’t that the reason Christians give when you ask why they don’t stone people for eating seafood or wearing mixed-fiber clothing?

  • Sfugley

    You are right, the minority group now are Christians!!

  • Sfugley

    Woonsocket R.I. has raised $65,000 so far to fight a possible case with the FFRF concerning a cross on a monument in front of  a city fire dept. The FFRF even had the testicles to demand the removal of an angel comforting a firefighter on their website.
       I’ve deeply researched this and pun intended the FFRF doesn’t have a prayer on this one ” simple as that”.
      Mr. Rich Wilson, which Supreme Court case should I suggest to that cities attorney to use for litigation? Could you google it for me please n get back to me? There are 3 of them. Which one do you suggest for this slam dunk not having to remove the cross.
       Just for the record FFRF your type of faction is no longer the minority. 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Could you google it for me please

      Nope.  I know your time is limited, but you’ll have to do your own deep research.  I’m sure the librarians will be happy to assist you.

      • Sfugley

        I’m stunningly offended Rich. I thought we could become pals, lol!