In 2010, the Chester County Commissioners (in Pennsylvania) passed a resolution allowing them to control what displays are put in front of the Chester County Courthouse. Essentially, they decided the best option was a display featuring Santa, a sleigh with gifts, candy canes, and the like.
Last year, still unable to put up their tree, members of the Freethought Society created a Human Tree of Knowledge in protest:
This year, members of the group spoke directly to the Commissioners to get them to change their mind. The most memorable speech may have come from Tracy McPherson, who argued that her religion was being excluded from the public square:
Tracy McPherson of Thornbury, who identified herself as a minister of the Evangelical Pastafarian Church, told the commissioners that she had been dismayed last year when she drove by the courthouse in downtown West Chester and noticed the lack of any display concerning her faith.
“It would be meaningful to our congregation to see our faith recognized on public property at the Chester County Courthouse in the same way that the Christian and Jewish religions are currently acknowledged,” said McPherson…
“The holiday season is very important to Pastafarians, as it coincides with out primary holiday, which is called Holiday,” McPherson said. “It is a time of joyful feasting, with unlimited pasta and grog, the favored drink of our Lord.”
“Many people find my religion laughable,” McPherson told the commissioners, who seemed to take her presentation seriously. But “in the words of Isaac Asimov, one man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh.”
I think I’m most impressed by how she kept a straight face the whole time she spoke.
A discussion between the Commissioners about how to handle the holiday displays is set to take place tonight. My guess is that they won’t change their policy, but I love how the atheists in West Chester are making sure that Christians don’t get special treatment.