Merry Christmas, Connecticut. Even you atheists.

Shelton resident Jerry Bloom describes himself as a secular humanist. Bloom recently was allowed to put up a “Winter Solstice” banner in the public park on Huntington Green (for which he has been named “atheist of the year”). Bloom’s banner is bright red with a quote from Anne Nicol Gaylor, founder of the Freedom From Religious Foundation. The quote reads, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The sign bothered some Connecticut residents who felt it went to far. They shared their feelings in the comment section of an article in the Valley Independent Sentinel titled, “Atheist, City Of Shelton Reach Compromise Over Lawsuit.”

John Westlake:

“It’s one thing for this group to wish us all a happy winter Solstice, but it becomes a different animal once it starts bashing another religion. Borders on hate speech. The mayor should explain the difference to this childish group.”

Marc Weissman:

“Here’s the thing. It’s one thing to say “We want equal time for those who don’t believe in XY or Z” It’s another thing to post a sign that clearly invokes anger, animosity and ridicule of those who do. That goes way beyond being fair or having equal time. It’s not as if the traditional signs say “Merry Christmas….and oh btw, for those of u who celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, ur clearly out of ur minds.” They say “Merry Christmas.” or “Happy Holidays” etc. Done! Meaning if u don’t feel that way, keep on driving. Nothing to see here. So to put up a sign that not only denounces ALL religions but even the very concept of religion, well that’s just advocating to be hurtful.”

Nick Prodan:

“So I guess I can put up a sign that says all Atheists are fools for not believing what I believe. Essentially this is what Bloom is saying about all other religions. I feel sorry for him and all of the sheep that follow this path.”

Before the sign went up Bloom sued the city, claiming city officials previously refused to let him place his banner in Constitution Park. The lawsuit was filed by the FFRF and it stated that the city allowed the American Legion to put up a faith based display of “heralding angels” but denied Bloom’s sign. According to Shelton’s Mayor Mark Lauretti, Bloom’s first request was for the sign to be placed in a location where signs are not allowed by displays are. Lauretti told the CT Post, “We do monitor and regulate these things, and we treat everyone the same.’’

Bloom’s lawsuit was filed but settled out of court. His banner currently sits nearby a display of the nativity which was sponsored by the Exchange Club and Cub Scouts. Shortly after Bloom’s banner went up another sign was placed right next to it. This sign reads “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the city of Shelton.’’ Mayor Mark Lauretti said he put up that sign, stating, “I also have a right.”

Mayor Lauretti has a right to wish his residents a Merry Christmas and Jerry Bloom has a right to celebrate Solstice. However as CT citizens have expressed, there’s a way to share what you believe without devaluing or attacking the beliefs of others.  We are blessed to live in a nation where we have religious freedom. We should all be grateful to be able to express our views freely without punishment or abuse from our government. We should also be considerate of the views of others and kind towards those who don’t hold our values.

This season in the midst of our differences, let us remember what matters most. For Christians our hope doesn’t lie in a tree, presents or our Christmas traditions. Our hope lies in the God who sent his son to the earth so we could know true peace. This is the meaning of the season for us. God became a man to save all mankind who trusts in Him. From all of us here at the Family Institute of Connecticut,  we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for standing with us in 2016 as we’ve fought to defend family, faith and our freedoms.