Inoffensive Atheist Sign Gets Vandalized in Virginia; It Was Spraypainted and Burned

For seven years now, the Shenandoah Area Secular Humanists in Virginia have put up a display alongside a Nativity scene on the Warren County courthouse lawn.

Their sign reads:

With reason and compassion as our guide, let us work together to produce a world in which peace, prosperity, freedom, and happiness are shared by all.

That’s not only completely inoffensive; it’s something a religious group could have put up and no one would have batted an eye. There’s also a quotation from John F. Kennedy regarding church/state separation and a declaration of the principles of Secular Humanism underneath the message.

So guess what happened to it?

(Jeb Inge – Northern Virginia Daily)

Authorities said Thursday the sign was spray painted overnight on Dec. 16 and then damaged in a fire in the early morning hours of Dec. 21.

Gene Rigelon, coordinator of the Shenandoah Area Secular Humanists, said the partially burned sign will remain standing through the holiday season and then be replaced next year. County workers removed the spray paint after the first incident, he said. The fire left both panels of the sign with slight smoke damage in the front and heavily charred in the back, he said.

Rigelon said “a whole bunch of rags” soaked in gasoline and used to set the fire were found behind the signs.

The sign cost $300 and was paid for by the Washington Area Secular Humanists.

Not that it’s ever ok for an atheist display to be vandalized, but I’m astonished that this particular sign worked some people up enough that they felt the need to destroy it.

You have to wonder what the reaction would’ve been if the message was more aggressive.

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.