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Atheist flag flies: Free speech for everyone

January 03. 2018 11:57PM

Tuesday afternoon in Somersworth, Richard Gagnon stood next to the Ten Commandments monument across from City Hall, and flew an atheist flag.

Somehow, both church and state survived.

Gagnon is an atheist and a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which spends its time complaining about things like the Ten Commandments monument and prayers at the beginning of public ceremonies.

Somersworth opens Citizens Place, the small plot around the monument, for people to display flags of various kinds.

Gagnon had originally asked to fly his flag in December, but deferred when he realized it might seem rude to do so when three major religions were observing holidays. That was a wise bit of deference from a group that is often confrontational.

Gagnon was allowed to peacefully express his views on city property, without being a threat to anyone else’s beliefs. Hopefully, it occurred to him that the monument next to him posed no greater threat to free thought than he did.

Religion is part of America’s social and civic life. We can protect everyone’s right to observe the religion of his choice, or none at all, without scrubbing all references to religion from public life.

Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard and the city council should be applauded for their commitment to free speech.

Religion Social issues Local and County Government Editorial Somersworth

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