West Chester did a good thing a couple of years ago and pre-empted the growing trend of suing towns to take down overtly religious holiday displays. They created a “free speech” zone for displays. For the second year in a row the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia has set up a “Godless Holiday Tree,” which they have dubbed, “The Tree of Knowledge.”
“War on Christmas!”
Yada, yada, yada. I really don’t care that these folks have set this up in the religious free speech zone, that’s what it’s for. It can’t be any more tacky than the platstic, light-up, nativity sets I see on people’s lawns.
On the other hand, I would like to point out that “Freethought” isn’t anything of the sort. It is simply another means of using reason for the purposes of evangelism (in this instance, the “good news” that there isn’t any God at all and that people can be free from the “monopoly” of religion). Again, I have no problem that people are doing this, it’s part of American Civil Society and I’d, frankly, much rather help the people who are actually under my care to delve deeply into the faith than spend my time trying to beat down people who don’t share the Christian faith. This is one of the reasons why I don’t want any part of that mud-puddle religion known as Evangelicalism™ – it leaves adherants defenseless against people who aren’t part of the “chosen,” which makes people feel like they have to silence opponents.
I do wish, however, that these new Evangelical Freethinkers would admit that they are at the very least, a religious sect. Many of the statments made in the article linked above, as a matter of fact, echo the same philosophical points made by the religious sepratists in this country during the Great Awakening (read Under the Cope of Heaven for a decent survey). It’s a decidely non-theist religious sect, to be sure, but that’s the point – in being a non-theist movement it excludes religious theiests from being members, it’s a sect with a religious boundary-marker. May they meet in peace and free from fear, this is the same religious freedom which allows us to do likewise (be careful, culture warriors, what you wish for). Just don’t tell me that a sect/society that advocates, “…reason, rationalism, freethought and humanism,” and, “…provides forums in which freethinkers can gather for informational and educational meetings, and for fun events and social networking with like-minded individuals,” while setting up displays juxtoposing its views against [other] religious traditions, isn’t a religious movement.