Springfield Nativity Scene Committee Chairman Says Theft of Atheist Signage from State Capitol Unfortunate
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- According to a spokesman for Jesse White, the Illinois Secretary of State, a sign posted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), was stolen from the state Capitol building Rotunda sometime between 9:45 P.M. Monday and 7 A.M. Tuesday. The sign--which disparaged those who believe in religion or have personal faith--was placed in the Illinois Capitol building in reaction to a Nativity scene that was sponsored by the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee (SNSC) and donations from the public.
"It is truly unfortunate that someone decided to express their displeasure with the disturbing sign by stealing it," said Daniel Zanoza, Chairman of the SNSC. "Of course, our entire committee would encourage the return of the sign to its rightful owners. Judeo-Christian teachings tell us 'Thou shalt not steal' through the Ten Commandments. I know SNSC members are in unison in their condemnation of this act."
Recently, some pro-family groups have been critical of the Secretary of State's office for placing the FFRF sign in close proximity to the Nativity scene and the so-called "holiday" tree which stand at the center of the Rotunda.
Dave Smith, Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute, says he knows of at least 400 e-mails or calls that have come into the Secretary of State's office with complaints about the atheist sign's location in reaction to a story Smith wrote on the subject last Monday. [IFI E-Alert: Atheists Attack Religious Displays in Springfieldhttp://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=34177]
"Yes, I do think the atheist sign and its message should have been separated from the positive religious images," said Zanoza. "I also take umbrage at the suggestion made by this atheist group that Christians in our group or individually had something to do with the stealing of the sign. It's a slanderous comment and I believe an apology should be forthcoming. I also find it amazing that this group is now going to use words from Scripture to discourage further theft in the future. Where I come from it's called hypocrisy, but they may call it something else in Madison, Wisconsin from where this group hails."
A spokesman for the FFRF reportedly said the words "Thou shalt not steal" will be included on a replacement sign.
The Nativity scene went on display December 2nd and will stand in the Capitol Building Rotunda through December 28th.
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