Photo Credit: Freedom From Religion Foundation
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is unfurling a blue rectangle with the atheist A on it for the second year in a row in the “Citizens Place” traffic island, thanks to resident Richard Gagnon.
In 2015, the Ten Commandments monument just outside the Somersworth City Hall in New Hampshire had been vandalized. Then, in 2016, the city replaced a vandalized Ten Commandments monument with a brand new one, opening the door to future lawsuits over the blatant promotion of Christianity. The Freedom From Religious Foundation answered by an atheist flag looming over the monument.
The FFRF reports: Today, Jan. 2, FFRF and local member Richard Gagnon are hoisting an “A” flag in Somersworth, N.H., to honor nonbelief. The flag will be up in the “Citizens Place” traffic island till Friday, Jan. 11. The red “A” was adopted by Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” as a symbol of atheism and agnosticism.
In 2017, the city installed two flagpoles near a contentious Ten Commandments monument for community groups to commemorate special occasions.
“The 3,000-pound monolith was knocked down in August 2016, setting off a new round of discussions as to whether or not the religious symbol violates the constitutional provision of separation of church and state,” the local paper reported. “In determining whether the Ten Commandments monument should be restored, Mayor Dana Hilliard offered a plan to create a citizen’s park, adding two flagpoles which could be used by civic groups to celebrate important events.”
Gagnon said the raising of the flag is “a celebration of free thought.”
“It shows the city’s diversity,” Gagnon said. “In their commitment to diversity, the city said diversity includes everybody, including non-believers.”
The Somersworth mayor, who was present at the flag-raising ceremony, waxed eloquent on the occasion.
“Today in the smallest city in New Hampshire, Dr. King’s dream is reinforced by Richard Gagnon going to the flagpole and having his chance,” Hilliard said. “Somersworth will once again prove to New Hampshire and the nation that we stand by our Hilltopper values of honoring each other. Let us in this month continue to reflect on Dr. King’s words, and his dream of understanding and equality for all.”
“It was the first time we were making a statement, and it was not vandalized,” says Gagnon.