Scenes from Outside the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade

You’ve read the story by now. The Kansas City Atheist Coalition was rejected by the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade out of “respect for the legacy of St. Patrick.” Interestingly enough, the “Missouri Gay Rodeo Association” met the criteria (PDF), but KCAC did not.

Despite getting rejected, the group still set up an Ask an Atheist booth nearby the parade route to help dispel stereotypes and, judging by their signs, it was a rousing success:

Jozef Hanratty with his new preacher friend

Joshua Stewart stares lovingly at his new pamphlet

About 20 members of the group held signs to protest the snub, in a St. Patrick’s way.

One said: “Kiss me, I’m a left-handed, red-headed, kilt-wearing, Irish Atheist Stepchild.”

Andy Beals said the sign had earned him two kisses before the parade was even over.

“People have been really great,” Beals said. “Most think we didn’t get treated right.”

This is how you handle a snub. Instead of just getting angry, the atheists, by being there with colorful signs and smiling faces, made a strong case for why the organizers made a bad decision. Why would anyone kick out a group of people with this much exuberant Irish pride?

(Thanks to Veronica for the images!)

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.

  • newavocation

    Atheists are bad for the business of religion. Did the organizers happen to allow a MADD float in the parade?

  • Patrick Ptomey

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but here in America we don’t exactly treat St. Patrick’s Day like a religious holiday.

  • Sandra Duffy

    How pathetic of Kansas City! Once there were “No Irish” signs and now it seems the attitude still applies to “No Irish Atheists”. Well that’s one less destination for my bucket list.

  • Kevin Sagui

    We treat it the same way we treat the feast day of Saint Valentine and All Hallow’s Eve.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    If a ‘private’ (non-government) parade committee wants to practice religious discrimination, then I guess that is their right.

    1) They shouldn’t blame St. Patrick, since during his life he built UP his networks/collaborators (no evidence that he practiced inherently exclusionary practices like the parade committee is doing to his dishonor).

    2) The parade should not use government (tax-payer) funds to run an event that glorifies religious discrimination. Thus, the parade committee each year should PAY for all the police overtime, EMS, street cleaners, etc. that are using tax-payer money to support their parade.

  • dorcheat

    Good old Westport in Kansas City. I spent a lot in time in Kansas City in the 1990′s. It was fun to go to Westport every weekend for drinks.
    The K.C. Atheist Coalition sure is a fun looking group. I think they got their message out very effectively.

  • Gus Snarp

    Well, except way more public drunkenness and urination.

  • Gus Snarp

    On a related note, the Cincinnati St. Patrick’s Day parade decided to block the GLSEN of Cincinnati from participating, apparently solely because they have gay and lesbian in their name. I would like to think Cincinnati is a little more modern and cosmopolitan than Kansas City, and I hate being proved wrong. Several city council members and candidates boycotted the parade in response, as well as, apparently, the Firefighters Local and the IBEW local, which makes me a bit more hopeful.

  • Blacksheep

    Don’t you realize why the gay Rodeo met the criteria but the Atheists did not? It goes back to the “I’m OK, you’re OK” philosophy that we all learned in grade school. The MGRA was likely marching with a banner with the name of their organization on it: “The Missouri Gay Rodeo Association.” They are not criticizing or putting themselves above others.

    The banners that FA showed originally for Irish Atheists had copy that was commenting on God not exisiting, etc. – in other words, criticizing others – “I’m OK and you are not.”

  • Persephone

    I’ve spent a lot of time in both cities. They are strikingly similar. Also, “cosmopolitan” is not a word I’d use for either one.

  • coyotenose

    And yet oddly, if one were to actually look at the photos in the original post, it’s clear that the offensive banner examples are about the atheists being decent people.

    And passingly strange, if one were to actually read the post, the parade organizers are quoted as saying that the atheist groups’ mission is why they were excluded, with the explicit rationale that it doesn’t line up with Catholic beliefs. That offensive, critical-of-others mission statement? Let’s have a look at the words that one could read in the post itself (emphasis mine):

    Actually, the KCAC’s stated mission
    is “to advance atheism through activism, philanthropy, education and
    the cultivation of a positive secular community.” Which I know because I
    actually read their website instead of stopping to take things out of context.
    Their goal isn’t to convert everyone to atheism; it’s to educate everyone about atheism.

    And from the local news piece about it, linked in the original post:

    “When I asked for further clarification for the reason of the
    declination, they told us they were an Irish Catholic organization, that
    the theme of the parade was the gathering of the clans,” Hyde said. “We
    were told it was because we wouldn’t be a good fit into the theme of
    the parade.”

    Now ask yourself what your feelings would be if a Jewish group asked to march, smile and laugh in the parade and was told that their being good without the Messiah – in public! – would be disrespectful to St. Patrick and so they were not fit to walk alongside good proper Catholics.

    Jesus Christ.

  • McAtheist

    Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf*****g snakes on this motherf*****g island!

    St, Samuel of Jackson

  • Diego

    But religious people also pay taxes for police, EMS, street cleaners, etc.
    They are entitled to their use of the roads, etc. just like everyone else. If NO taxpayer supported facilities can ever be used, such as roads, then one couldn’t even use the road to go to church.
    Is that the idea?

  • Diego

    The Kansas City Atheists would not let my Believing Friend have a Book Table at their convention last October.
    Why can’t he be part of their group?

  • Diego

    Their stated goal is to advance atheism.
    And on their website their symbol of their Activism is a CLENCHED FIST.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Because it’s their own private event, paid for with their own resources, so they can set their own rules. An evangelical convention would be under no obligation to have an atheist book table either. But we’re not talking about conventions here, we’re talking about a big public event that usues public resources and invites groups from the general public to participate. Except for us scary, scary atheists.

  • Ubi Dubium

    And the christian symbol is a torture device. And how do you know that fist isn’t offering you a fist bump?

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination against religious minorities. Title-3 Prohibited state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of religion.

    Yet the Kansas City local government is closing the roadways to general traffic (excluding tax payers from normal use of the roads that they pay for) so that those roads, police, street cleaners, etc. can be used for an event that practices religious discrimination (in violation of the 1964 United States Civil Rights Act).

  • Veronica Brown

    Probably because your friend didn’t fill out an application. And we did have a book table, which I certainly don’t recall having any religious authors request to be included.

  • Silo Mowbray

    What’s your mental block here? It’s dead simple: you can’t use taxpayer funded resources in preference for any one religious belief over others, including NO religious belief. Government Must Remain Religion-Neutral.

  • Blacksheep

    I looked at the actual banner designs they were to be carrying – and they were critical of believers. You may not have read the original post.

  • Blacksheep

    Are you saying that the Jewish group would have a banner that read, “Good without the messiah”? In that case it would be offensive because it’s critical of others. I believe they would have a sign that simply stated the name of their organization. Why add a pissy comment about someone else?

    By the way – the jews are awaiting the messiah, so they most likely wouldn’t carry a sign that siad that.

  • Blacksheep

    I just went back and looked at the banners – yup, just like I remember them. One says, “Positively Godless” (which is a friendly dig) and the other says, “Morals Without Mythology” (which is an obnoxious dig).

    They should do as every other group does – carry a banner that has the name of their organization, maybe with a positive message attached. Not “We’re OK, you’re not.”

    Why not march with a banner that says, “positively not irish”?

  • coyotenose

    Clearly your area needs to up its expectations during Halloween and Valentine’s if there’s not enough vomiting and public urinating going on. Don’t let St. Patty’s win! Scarf that candy and liquor!


  • coyotenose

    You had to quote mine and insinuate to have a counterargument. Congratulations on joining the ranks of the liars right off the bat.

  • coyotenose

    How DARE they challenge the same sort of ignorant assumptions about them that led to the organizers discriminating against them!

    It’s weird how you had to overlook 90% of the post, including the very words of the parade organizers, in order to say anything in their defense.

  • coyotenose


    Jesus Christ, is that hard?

  • coyotenose

    You should probably go research basic concepts like “private ownership” before attempting to argue here.

    Not to mention that the story sounds fake. Given how many of your lot like to fabricate persecution tales to inflate their martyr credentials, that wouldn’t be surprising.

  • Blacksheep

    The only thing that observers see when they march past is the banner – so that’s what matters. I don’t believe they were planning on stopping and explaining their position along the way – I could be wrong. You’re actually ignoring 90% of what their message to onlookers will be during the actual parade: “We’re OK and you’re not.”

  • Blacksheep

    I see that you enjoy being disrespectful of other’s beliefs too, with your sign off, so I’m not surprised that you apprciate that as a tactic.And all caps, too – dynamic! I’LL TRY THAT.

    It’s too bad that they couldn’t figure out a way to fulfill their mission without designing banners (AND PAMPHLETS, SEE ABOVE) that make fun of the beliefs of probably 90% of the parade-goers in an IRISH CATHOLIC PARADE.

    (BTW, A jewish group does not need to criticize others to tell people about themselves. They can stick to what THEY BELIEVE, that’s enough).

    It’s not so hard to grasp, it’s easy to spot the difference between educating people about oneself and putting down others.

  • Blacksheep

    …an angry bunch, most of the time. (not always, some lovely people on FA)

  • Blacksheep

    “Kansas City’s parade celebrates the Feast Day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and the Christian teachings and beliefs that he lived and suffered for… The Atheist Coalition’s published mission is to advance godlessness through activism, and its stated intent regarding the 2013 parade was to carry banners with phrases such as “positively godless” and “morals without mythology.”

    That’s what the PARADE ORGANIZERS THEMSELVES said.

  • Blacksheep

    I agree – the signs they are holding are friendly and fun, and a departure from the earlier pictured parade banners that said “Morals without Mythology”, etc.