ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL - In the cause for religious freedom and free speech, members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation have once again erected a display in Arlington Heights' North School Park as part of the city's annual "winter display." And once again, the display has been vandalized by an unknown attacker.
The group, which refers to itself as "non-theistic" rather than "atheistic," reports they are discouraged that a banner saying "Are you good without God? Millions are" was discovered damaged early Monday morning. The park district and police departments have been notified, but no one knows who damaged the sign - drawing media attention to the display again.
"Unfortunately, there's no evidence as to who damaged the displays last year or this year. The vandalism has only happened those two times, however various atheist displays have been vandalized across the country over the past few years," Hemant Mehta of the Chicago Coalition of Reason told Illinois Review.
"I'm not jumping to any conclusions over who did this or what their motivations were," Mehta said. "But we hope anyone with information will contact the Chicago Coalition of Reason at ChicagoCoR@gmail.com."
The controversy in Arlington Heights started in 2013 when Jim Finnegan, a Christian activist and former resident of Arlington Heights, filed a complaint against the Arlington Heights Park District to get the depiction of the birth of Jesus at the park, where the village's annual toy-themed holiday lights festival is held, a Chicago Tribune account says. Park officials ultimately approved a special use permit that allowed Finnegan's 5-foot-wide, 4-foot-tall display to be on public park property.
Finnegan has also successfully maintained a nativity display during the month of December at Chicago's Daley Plaza for the past 30 years.
The Chicago County Coalition of Reason (www.chicagocor.org) is made up of the Humanists of West Suburban Chicagoland, Secular Students Association of Elmhurst College, Kol Hadash, Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago, Freedom From Religion Foundation--Metropolitan Chicago Chapter, North Suburban Chicago Freethinkers Meetup, Chicago Skeptics Meetup Group, North Suburban Chicago Atheist Meetup Group, South Suburban Freethought Community, Wheaton Atheists, Chicago Brights, Chicago Society of Friends of Epicurus, and The Chicago Freethought Project.
"Hopefully this vandalism will inspire more nontheistic people in Chicago and all across America to realize how important it is to join with others of like mind," added Dr. Jason Heap, national coordinator for the United Coalition of Reason. "Only by working together can we end this unwarranted bigotry against philosophical and religious minorities."