As I write this, Bill O’Reilly has devoted a major chunk of his show to how “out of control” the situation in Washington is. He dug up some troll of a preacher to declare that Christmas is the most sacred of Christian holidays (which is absurd). And he’s lambasting Governor Gregoire for her fecklessness.
The occasion for this is that the big sign was stolen today.
An anti-religion placard posted alongside Christmas displays drew a thief, a preacher, a part-time elf and a security detail to the state Capitol on Friday, as a weeklong uproar over religious speech hit a bizarre peak.
It all started Monday, when the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation unveiled a winter solstice sign in the grand marble hallways around the Capitol Rotunda.
The sign’s atheistic message – reading in part that “religion is but myth and superstition” – drew top billing on conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s TV show.
Several days of angry messages to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire followed, and on Friday morning, someone removed the atheists’ sign and apparently hustled it out of the Capitol.
Not to worry! The sign has been recovered. The article goes on to describe some of the other shenanigans that have surrounded the sign.
Meanwhile, I’m beginning to think O’Reilly may have a point about Gregoire. Here’s the statement her office released about the sign:
Last year, after a federal lawsuit was filed against the state of Washington by the Alliance Defense Fund, the state’s Department of General Administration set forth a policy allowing individuals or groups to sponsor a display regardless of that individual’s or group’s views.
The Legislative Building belongs to all citizens of Washington state, and houses the state Legislature, as well as the offices of several state-elected executives, including the governor. The U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent and clear that, under the Constitution’s First Amendment, once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of non-believers.
Don’t look at us! We don’t want this infernal sign! We’re being forced to by those mean ‘ol courts.
This is good news, folks. I still believe that it is a small minority of people who get worked up about things like this. Most people, regardless of what they think of the sign, are not going to be impressed by thieves and self-promoting preachers.
O’Reilly is on in the background as I write this. He has moved on to whining about how bad it is that Prop 8 supporters are sometimes referred to as bigots by Prop 8 opponents. Cry me a river.