Atheist Activist Group Seeks Removal of City’s ‘Churches Welcome You’ Signs

OCONOMOWOC, Wisc. — A prominent professing atheist group is seeking the removal of a Wisconsin city’s welcome signs because of their religious content.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to the mayor of Oconomowoc after being notified by a local resident that the city has two signs on public property that read, “The Churches of Oconomowoc Welcome You.” A cross rests on the same structure that holds the sign.

“Displaying signs that promote Oconomowoc’s Christian churches, along with Latin crosses, fails to respect [the] constitutional mandate of neutrality,” it wrote. “It endorses religion over nonreligion and Christianity over all faiths.”

FFRF said that contrary to the message of the signs, unbelievers will feel unwelcome.

“These signs convey a message to non-Christians in Oconomowoc that they are not ‘favored members of the political community,'” it asserted. “These citizens should not be made to feel excluded, like outsiders in their own community, because their city prominently places Christian symbols and and promotes Christian churches on city property.”

The group asked that the signs be removed from city property.

However, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty soon pushed back by also writing a letter to Mayor David Nold, refuting FFRF’s belief that the signs violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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“[I]t is not unconstitutional to acknowledge the historical role that religion has played in this country. There are many organizations and communities that have made Oconomowoc the vibrant place that it is. One is its ‘churches’ and it is not wrong to acknowledge that,” it wrote.

The Institute noted that private parties paid for and maintain the signs, and that the welcome on the signs excludes no one.

“The signs welcome everyone to the City of Oconomowoc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the churches of Oconomowoc (or the Rotary, or the Lions, or the Kiwanis) welcoming people to the city. No one would argue that
people who are not associated with the Rotary or the Lions or the Kiwanis would feel unwelcome in the City because of their signs,” it said.

The legal organization also pointed out that that as religious drawings are even on display at the nation’s highest court, there is no mandate to purge religion from everything pertaining to the government.

“Contrary to what the FFRF would have you believe, there is no absolute prohibition on religious symbols in public places,” it wrote. “The building where the United States Supreme Court, itself, is housed contains paintings of Moses and the Ten Commandments. If the FFRF was correct, then it would be necessary for all such religious symbols to be removed from government property, but that is not the law.”

The city states that it is investigating, but has not yet indicated one way or the other its position on the matter.

As previously reported, the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Van Orden v. Perry, which upheld a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol, noted that religious displays may be found in a number of government buildings.

“For example, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building since 1897,” it wrote. “And the Jefferson Building’s Great Reading Room contains a sculpture of a woman beside the Ten Commandments with a quote above her from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8).”

“A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the national archives,” the court outlined. “Inside the Department of Justice, a statue entitled ‘The Spirit of Law; has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building is another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments.”


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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Atheists will demand removal of the Christian Cross on churches as well from the public view. Don’t give in. Christ’s Cross is the symbol of mankind’s salvation and liberty in the entire universe. Atheism is evil. USA should not give in to evil. Psalm 14 and Romans 1 and John 3.

    • Netizen_James

      No, that’s a lie. What part of ‘bearing false witness’ did you miss? Groups like FFRF don’t care about ‘the public view’. Neither they, nor Americans United for Separation of Church and state, nor the ACLU have ever once protested any PRIVATE group – like a church – displaying a cross, or “Jesus Saves” on their marquee or the like. The issue here is GOVERNMENT promotion of religion. Government has no ‘rights’. Only PEOPLE have rights. Government either has the authority to do X as granted to the government by We The People, or else government has no such authority. As there is no authority given to government to promote or encourage religious belief, then government doesn’t have that authority, and any such promoting is being done without authority, and thus in violation of our Constitution.

      We The People have a RIGHT to be free from government trying to stuff religion, ANY religion, down our throats. (and no, refraining from the promotion of theism is NOT equivalent to a promotion of atheism, any more than NOT promoting Coke is the same as promoting Pepsi!)

      Individuals, and voluntary associations thereof, have every right to promote, encourage, decry or deride any religious viewpoint or idea they’d like. Government does not. If government were promoting Islam rather than Christianity, you’d have a problem with that, right? So ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’, and recognize that government doesn’t have the authority to promote ANY religion or belief as the ‘officially correct’ one. Not even yours.

      If you think Romans13:1-6 applies, then doesn’t that mean that our Founders were heretical blasphemers for rebelling against the God-given authority of King George III? Or doesn’t that ‘count’?

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        But today’s USA is such a single-hearted submission to atheists and Sodomites. The Founding Fathers and all the pioneering creators of America never imagined this American people’s submission to evil. Not even 40 years ago. Westerners got confused after they had mixed skin colors and sexual depravities. Those two are entirely two different things.

        Ex-christian Westerners and their young mental slaves are also confused on the Good( Christianity) and the evil( atheism, Satanism, etc.). If the Good and the evil have the same rights, the society will plunge into an evil’s tyranny as all men are born-sinners. Fairness and the rule of the laws are meaningless to traitors and playboys.

        Rule of the law and democracy works only with Christian-moral people and their mimickers. We should battle for the truth and morality’s rights to exist – that’s exercising the God-given freedom our forefathers have handed down to us.

        • ectocooler

          “Westerners got confused after they had mixed skin colors and sexual depravities. Those two are entirely two different things.”

          Should have just come out and said you’re a racist homophobe so we could have not wasted our time on your degeneracy.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Peaceful homophobia is a human right because homosexuality/transgenderism is a sinful depravity. Western culture is evil to push such evil immorality upon mankind. May God deal with the current Western Sodom.

          • Amy

            Yahweh is evil; the story of Sodom and Gommroah is a horrific fairly tale.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Peaceful homophobia is a human right; everyone has a right to reject homosexual depravity. Secular Westerners are heinous racists in that they put the peoples of colors and disabled people AND sexual pervs together and rant equality. By doing that, today’s Western whites are implying that the people of colors or people with disability are as disgusting as sexually sinful and depraved people.

            Homosexuals and transgenderers should be listed with pedophiles, incest-practioners, and cannibals. Not with the peoples of colors or people with disability. Darker skins and disability have nothing to do with sins, unlike the homosexual/transgender sins. The West is imposing homosexuality this century to subdue mankind with sick immorality. A new filthy imperialism from the West.

            Once the truth and conscience are bent, people become slaves to any villains. God forbid such thing. Mankind need the Holy Bible for the truth and freedom, both then and now.

        • http://aol.com/ gerald m. serlin

          “Rule of the law and democracy works only with Christian-moral people…” Does that mean that Jews, from whose texts come the Christian moral values, are not included in your definition of moral people? Do you really believe that only “Christians and their mimickers” are moral people?

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            “Christian-moral” includes the Old Testament Bible. Secular Jews are not helpful. The statistics. Western secular nations today hunt down Christians for opposing the sexual depravity in the society. They leave the Jews and Muslims alone, though, practicing a double standard. You must wear something proper when you appear in public instead of wrapping yourself in a bath-towel.

    • ectocooler

      liar. We atheists don’t care about having crosses on churches, only public land where it’s unconstitutional. This is the kind of fallacious argument that bellies the claim that religious people hold the moral high ground since it’s such a blatant lie.

      We ask that they remove a cross from public land.
      You read it as us wanting CHURCHES to remove crosses.

      That’s either dishonesty or delusion.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Christianity is the only sane conscience in Western nations. Christless West is like a man without conscience. Westerners do not know how tyrants advance their agenda on Planet Earth because they just watch junk cartoon movies and never actually suffered abuses except for their soldiers.

        • Amy

          Blood cults are not good for western society.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Westerners go nude in public and rape Asian children, if they don’t have the Christian religion. You guys need Christianity to stay sane and civilized.

          • Amy

            Western civilization has low rape rates when compared with the religious theocracies. Your religion is only two thousand years old out of the two hundred thousand years our species has walked the earth. We do not separate ourselves into groups until our parents teach us. Secular societies allow all religious and non-religious people to freely express themselves.

      • http://aol.com/ gerald m. serlin

        Jews also do not care about having religious symbols on private property. It is only when public funds are used to favor one religion over another, that Jews object.

        • Grace Kim Kwon

          Israel is sinning against God by holding Sodomites’ filthy parades in God’s Holy Land. Israel is the one who knows better than any othes that depraved nations get nuked. Genesis 19. II Peter 3. Those who unconditionally desire West’s filthy money will go down with them. Israel should read the Holy Bible and trust in their Messiah Jesus and repent and do away with the West’s Sodomy.

          • http://aol.com/ gerald m. serlin

            You really are way off base, Grace. Open your mind before you speak.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            I want you to dress up properly in public. Westernized women are insulting the entire mankind by their nudism in public and endanger global children because men who are used to seeing women’s skin would run after children for crimes. Today’s immoral secular culture is the evidence.

          • Amy

            You sound like you want your own version of Sharia law.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            The Muslims can’t respect the West because it’s so abnormal immoral today. The Western culture can’t keep marriage for a few years or raise moral kids. Dress up decently in public then the West will gain respect again like 50 years ago. Racists are better than the nudist pervs to deal with. Stop corrupting the world’s children; all children have rights to innoconce and purity to be happy. Read the Holy Bible and repent of your sin to get saved and stay civilized. John 3.

          • Amy

            We watered down your religion with the enlightenment era; now we will do the same with Islam. Christianity is superstition based upon a human sacrifice that frees you of the bad deeds you committed. No such luck, you will have to learn to be a decent person who does not judge others with out your scripture.

  • Jason Todd

    Yeah. What else is new?

  • https://smultronstalletoutsidethecamp.wordpress.com Smultronstället

    “Coexistence” and “pluralism” were always pipe dreams. A nation, to be a nation, must always share a common world view, a common religion, a common God. To be a blessed nation, that God must be the true God, our King Jesus Christ, and no other.

    Atheists never wanted coexistence and pluralism, they always wanted to destroy us. “Coexistence” and “pluralism” were never their goal, they were always just intermediate phases when their power wasn’t big enough yet. If you had predicted that Christians get arrested for not baking cakes for sodomite “weddings” only a few years ago, you would have been called a conspiracy theorist using the slippery slope fallacy.

    We can have no truce, no treaty with the atheists. They cannot have peace with us, we cannot have peace with them. Atheists hate Christ’s Church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We must fight the Lord’s battles (1 Samuel 18:17) against their giant errors, and destroy it from the face of the earth as an ideology of devils.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      I have seen not a single piece of evidence to your slanderous accusations. Public Accommodation non-discrimination laws were voted on and enacted in numerous states by lawmakers who were almost exclusively Christian. And they have precedent in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, also voted on by Christian lawmakers and signed in to law by Christian president Lyndon B. Johnson. And public accommodation laws don’t care whether you’re Christian or not, they simply hold that business owners can’t discriminate. For whatever reason. They apply to bigoted atheists just the same.

      In this case, the FFRF simply wants to separate Christianity from the government like they always do. Nothing more.

      • Skittles

        Your little girlfriends all got banned.

        So,…

        • Ambulance Chaser

          So, do you have a response to the topic, or…

    • TheKingOfRhye

      I just to have to say, as much for the benefit of other Christians reading this as you….I’m an atheist, and you’re completely misrepresenting my views, as well as those of just about every other atheist I know.

      “Atheists hate Christ’s Church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated.”

      Wrong about atheists (yes, SOME atheists exist who you could say that about, but they don’t represent all atheists, not even close) and even wrong about Christians. You don’t speak for all Christians, hardly.

      My ideal is a nation where those of all faiths and those of none are treated equally. No preference given to Christians, those of other faiths, or even to the agnostic/atheists. That’s what would be known as a secular state. (not an atheist state….BIG difference. I wouldn’t want that any more than I would want a theocracy – which you seem to want)

      “Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

      -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

    • Edward Borges-Silva

      The Lord also instructs us to love our enemies…whether they love us or not. Atheists can be won to Christ, prominent former atheists such as Lee Strobel, Lew Wallace, Simon Greenleaf and others attest to that. And before conversion, we are all Enemies of God, yet He loved us enough to die for us.

    • http://aol.com/ gerald m. serlin

      I, personally, have never seen a situation where atheists have tried to force their views on the general society in the United States, as Christians and now Muslims do. (The same with Jews, who have no position on Christianity, except to keep it from interfering with the free exercise of their own religion.) Rather, the atheist position has always been based upon a “live and let live” attitude. Most atheists, in my observation, have no opinion on religion, except to keep it from interfering with their lives.

  • 0pus

    Stop being so genteel in these articles. Instead of “prominent professing atheist group,” call it what it is, “FFRF, the most aggressive anti-Christian hate group in America.” They exist to harass Christians – not all religions, just Christians. They don’t exist to promote atheism, they exist to be a thorn in the side of Christians. If that isn’t a hate group, what is?

    • Michael C

      They exist to harass Christians – not all religions, just Christians.

      Ummmmm… Did you not read the article published directly before this article?

      It’s titled “North Carolina County Approves Resolution Recognizing ‘Month of Ramadan’”

      Perhaps you should go give it a quick scan.

    • Netizen_James

      More lies about the FFRF. Lot’s of folk here looking to be in the ‘get away from me, I never knew you’ class.(Matt7:21-23) No, the FFRF goes after any and all cases where government is inappropriately supporting, endorsing, or promoting religion. It doesn’t matter what religion. Because it is usually Christians in the USA who don’t understand what the establishment clause means, and think that the ‘majority rules’ in all cases, this commonly means going after government entities who are promoting Christianity, as there simply aren’t very many cases where government is promoting Buddhism or Judaism or Hinduism. But if you know of any such cases, FFRF will be glad to field your complaint.

  • Shane Egan

    As an atheist I will say I have no trouble with being welcomed by churches – just as I would have no trouble being welcomed by the local PTA, the Masons, the local Mosque or the guild of auto-insurers.

    However, what I would take umbrage with is if other community groups wanted to be able to add their friendly greeting message and they were denied because they were ‘unsuitable’.

    This is why the town will likely lose any lawsuit over this as it will be very easy for a citizen to request a similar message from the ’43 district coven of Satan’ and you know the town will not allow it – thereby giving government endorsement of one religion over another – something not permitted under the constitution.

    • Nidalap

      “Endorse” does not mean the same thing as “establish”.
      I know they’re both “e” words, but come on…

      • Ambulance Chaser

        Your argument is not with Shane, it’s with the Supreme Court,

      • TheKingOfRhye

        If the government endorses one religion over others, that is a form of establishment.

      • Skittles

        These people define “establish” as “allowing Christians to exist.”

        • Netizen_James

          So if the government were promoting Islam, you would be ok with that? Really? So it’s ok for the government to promote YOUR religion, but not anyone else’s religion? How does that work again?

        • Ambulance Chaser

          No, no one defines it that way.

      • Netizen_James

        From the Supreme Court:
        “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” (330 US 1)

  • Trilemma

    Seems to me that if they removed the little cross that the sign would then be okay.

    • Malleus

      Yeah, we don’t want the neurotics from the FFRF to wet themselves.

      • Lorne Zwelk

        Why do you say neurotic?

  • disqus_BDBCEvISae

    This fine, so long as the city also allows signs like:
    “The liquor stores of Oconomowoc Welcome You” – with a beer mug on top (the one true drink)
    “The gas stations of Oconomowoc Welcome You” – with a Shell Oil Logo (the one true gasoline)
    “The barbers of Oconomowoc Welcome You” – with barber poll on top
    Why stop with churches? Any business or organization should be able to put up advertising of equal size and location.

    • Amos Moses

      “Any business or organization should be able to put up advertising of equal size and location.”

      as far as i know …. they have not outlawed billboards there ………… so bigger …. and no problem …

  • Lorne Zwelk

    I don’t see a problem with the sign myself. It’s a simple welcome from a few churches. Even the cross doesn’t bother me in this case, it just looks like the “signature” of the welcome message to me.

  • Robert

    We need to change the constitution so its more friendly to christian belief’s than heathen beliefs. (All of the Non Christian beliefs are heathen) So let’s either change the constitution or ignore it.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      I have a better idea. Obey it.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        You Americans are being bored from having everything for the longest time – the contribution of your slender hard-working Christian ancestors. That’s why you rant atheism and Sodomy and bully the Christians today, repaying the good with evil. Bad descendants. The land will go to foreigners. They will talk about how immoral Americans of today have destroyed the homalend, for all eternity.

  • Robert

    The constitution is not God . where it disagrees with the bible those places in the constitution are best used for toilet paper.

    • Trilemma

      Where does the Constitution disagree with the Bible?

      • MarkSebree

        The First Amendment is a good place to start, as well as Article VI’s “No Religious Test” clause.

        • Trilemma

          Ok, how does the First Amendment disagree with the Bible?

          • Chris

            Well the first commandment says “You are to have no other gods besides me.”

            Now compare that to freedom of/from religion.

          • Trilemma

            The First Amendment prevents the government from making you have other gods. It also protects your right to obey the first commandment. The First Amendment makes no theological statement about gods.

          • Chris

            The first commandment would only apply in a theocracy. Unless you’re applying it only on a personal level.

          • Trilemma

            I’m applying it on a personal level. The first commandment still applied to the Israelites on a personal level even when they were in captivity and not living under their theocracy.

          • Chris

            Fair enough. And good point, by the way, about the Hebrews in Babylon. Indeed your argument would apply wherever the Jews settled in recent history. I don’t think that was the intent of the author however.

          • Trilemma

            I don’t know what the intent of the author is but I would still argue that the first commandment applies to Christians only on a personal level. The New Testament does not instruct Christians to create theocracies but rather to be subject to the governing authorities. Concerning the cross on the sign, the New Testament does not instruct Christians to make graven images and place them on land they don’t own.

          • Chris

            Good points all. I find I’m in pretty general agreement. Never thought of the cross as a graven image but it could definitely be taken that way. Well argued.

    • Shane Egan

      So you would like slavery, as endorsed by the Bible to be legal? Non-Jew slaves could be owned for life, beaten to death (so long as they did not die in a few days) and you think this is a good and moral view that should be the law in the U.S? Should people working on the sabbath be stoned? And should unruly teenagers be taken to the city gates and killed as well? These are clearly endorsed in the bible by the law of god. Or do you get to pick and chose which bits of the bible you like and make those into law?

      If you would like such a system of laws then you would feel much more happy in a theocracy like Iran where these sorts of literal interpretations of ‘holy’ scriptures are still enforced.

      Please answer, I really would like to know what parts of the Bible you would chose to throw out and which parts you want to enforce.

    • MarkSebree

      Your religion does not apply to anyone except you. Nobody else is beholden to it, and nobody else is required to obey any of its strictures. What you consider to be a “sin” does not apply to anyone else except you as well. You cannot define what is and is not a “sin” for anyone else.

      The U.S. Constitution, however, ideally applies equally to all people in this country. All their various religious beliefs are treated equally by all government institutions. The government has its power restricted in a number of ways to help enforce this equality, and it also has the power to enforce this same equality in a limited and clearly defined manner due to laws that have been passed which do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Christians are not given any special privileges because they are in the majority, nor because it is mostly christian who are in positions of government and corporate power. They get treated the same as everyone else.

      However, because Christians are in the majority, they are the ones that are most likely to feel entitles and empowered to impose their beliefs onto the minority and on their subordinates. That is why the Constitution includes provisions like the First Amendment which protect the rights of the minority from the will of the majority, and thus empower the government to enforce the equality of religions.

      Your deity and your beliefs are subservient to the US Constitution since the US Constitution applies to every person and religion equally, while your interpretation of your deity and your mythology only apply to you alone. That makes the U.S. Constitution superior to your religion and your religious beliefs.

      • http://aol.com/ gerald m. serlin

        Bravo! A succinct and powerful comment.

        • MarkSebree

          Thank you. Not that people like Robert or Grace will ever listen.

    • Grace Kim Kwon

      Yes, Americans should trust in the Holy Bible rather than the US constitution. US constitution has defects as it did not foresee how insane immoral secular Americans would be. Christian morality should be added to the definition of human rights.

      • MarkSebree

        Why should anyone else care about what your definition of what is and is not moral? Nobody except you is bound by your beliefs. What’s more, most Christians don’t feel constrained by your narrow version of your morals and beliefs. I find your beliefs to be immoral and insane according to my beliefs. What’s more, why should non-Christians even care what Christian morals are, much less your personal interpretation of what “Christian morals” should be?

        There is no reason why anyone should trust any mythology, including yours. Reason, compassion, empathy, understanding, and tolerance would stand us in better stead than any mythology, especially one that is millennia old.

  • Ted Skibinski

    Translation >PLEASE get Religion out of our sight / Then we won’t feel GUILTY About the way we live … If we truly Did not believe in God / IT WOULD NOT MATTER to us ” ?

  • game50

    Tell the atheist group to go to hell . We’re not bowing down to less than 1%. This shit has got to stop’s enough is enough. We’re taking back America One Nation Under God .

    • Grace Kim Kwon

      They are around 20% today. Spoiled well-fed rotten kids mostly still living in their parents’ homes, or conducting live human experiments somewhere. They need evangelism, but yes, definitely no bowing down to them. American kids have no idea about the reign of atheism. American atheists should be shipped to North Korea their own utopia.

      • game50

        Grace : please don’t control what I say I don’t take it from the government I don’t take her from my work and I’m not going to take it from you it’s called freedom of speech freedom of expression deal with it and have a nice day.