Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Jubilee Day, an annual street fair here in central Pennsylvania. I picked up a lot of religious propaganda that I think will make great fodder here on the blog, which I look forward to writing about. I also connected with the PA Nonbelievers, a group—I’m embarrassed to say—was not aware of. I was glad to see they are active and have many groups throughout the region.
Unfortunately, I learned that they’ve also faced some controversy lately. A letter in yesterday’s Patriot-News explains:
I marched as a U.S. Army veteran with the Pennsylvania Nonbelievers in the Annville Memorial Day parade.
We carried a banner “remembering all who bravely served, including atheists in foxholes.” It was well-organized and brought back pleasant memories of my time in the military.
As a citizen who thinks the world of the United States and does not subscribe to any belief system, I was shocked at the behavior of religious people along the parade route. One gentleman, sitting with his wife, clearly stated “I will put you in a foxhole and kill you.”
Another woman along the parade route stood up and just booed as we passed. Others yelled “go home” and “you don’t belong here” to me and the other veterans in our group. This type of religious conduct was disturbing but did not deter me from holding my head — and more importantly, my American flag — high.
The parade was personal for me because I promised a friend during Desert Storm that I would never forget him. My friend, who had no religious beliefs but loved America, was brutally killed in heavy combat during that war. The Memorial Day parade allowed me to honor him.
I want to thank parade volunteers for coordinating the event. The negative responses from those religious spectators have only motivated me to bring back a bigger flag next year.
This is incredibly disappointing to hear. The comments posted on the article confirm that there are plenty of other folks eager to disparage the nonbelievers. Nonbelievers need to keep quiet; they have an agenda. It just shows the importance of helping educate people about atheism.
You can see various pictures from the parade on the PA Nonbelievers page. Here are a few that demonstrate some of the negative reactions of the crowd: