Chambersburg Harrisburg Lancaster Lebanon York

Atheist Group Files Religious Discrimination Complaint Against Borough of Chambersburg

NEWS FROM
PA NONBELIEVERS, INC.
P.O. Box 702, York, PA 17405

Contact: http://www.panonbelievers.org/contact for details. We will release further information to press agencies who request it.

Atheist Group Files Religious Discrimination Complaint
Against Borough of Chambersburg

YORK, PA– PA Nonbelievers, Inc. (PAN), central Pennsylvania’s leading organization of atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists, announced tonight that it has filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) against the Borough of Chambersburg. The action stems from the Borough’s treatment of the organization when it requested to install a seasonal display at the Borough’s war memorial fountain.

The complaint was submitted to the PHRC on December 7th and announced on PAN’s monthly cable television show in York today. A video of PAN’s announcement will be archived at the group’s website www.panonbelievers.org within several days. Note from webmaster: It’s now up – Click here to view it

In November, PAN asked the Borough of Chambersburg for the same display privilege afforded to other private groups, including one which had erected a Christian nativity scene annually at the fountain. PAN’s display would have celebrated the Winter Solstice and honored atheist war veterans, in keeping with the war memorial theme of the fountain, as specified by written Borough policy. Instead, the Borough Council, upon receiving PAN’s request, voted unanimously to immediately prohibit PAN’s display, the nativity scene, and all other displays in the entire square, except for flowers and American flags.

PAN president, Steve Neubauer, said the group considers its action part of a “larger national civil rights struggle against a religious majority that wants to keep nonbelievers as invisible as possible to prevent them from gaining even a proportional share of political power.”

“How else can you explain the Borough Council president’s comment that our simple request for equal treatment was ‘tyranny of the minority’?”

Neubauer said the organization hopes that the dispute can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction through the PHRC without the long and expensive path of a federal lawsuit. But he said, PAN has spoken with civil liberties legal groups and could be forced to sue if an acceptable outcome is not reached through the PHRC proceedings.

Documents related to PAN’s display request are posted at

http://www.panonbelievers.org/2009/12/12/for-public-release-pan-documents-submitted-to-the-chambersburg-borough-council/.

Audio of PAN’s appearance before the Borough Council on November 23rd is available at

http://www.panonbelievers.org/2009/11/29/audio-from-chambersburg-borough-meeting-11232009/.

The discrimination complaint may be posted at a later date.

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