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Tree of Knowledge Saga Continues

For too long, Christians have claimed the monopoly on the winter season. While they have allowed Jews into the club despite the fact that Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday. A few years ago many in the atheist community made our claim for inclusion in the winter season with the holiday of Human Light and the Tree of Knowledge winter display.

Four years ago, Margaret Downey, president of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia suggested the Tree of Knowledge display. At the time, I was a board member of the organization. I have to admit that I did not really like her display idea at the time. However, I over the last four years I have really started to like this symbol.

The Tree of Knowledge has been on display at the Chester County Courthouse next to the Jesus Crèche, the Christmas Tree, and the Menorah for the last three years. Each year it has been a fight. This year, we lost the fight.

If you are not familiar with the situation, I have been writing a lot about it on my Examiner page. Over the weekend, The Freethought Society created a new display that we put up in front of the Courthouse for a few minutes. That display was the Human Tree of Knowledge which served as a protest for the County Commissioner’s actions to exclude us from the winter displays.

Margaret Downey is now asking for atheists to adopt the Tree of Knowledge display in their homes, takes photos and send them to her. She really wants people in the greater atheist community to start to use the Tree of Knowledge in celebration. I think it is a good idea however I don’t think it should be part of the legal case that the Freethought Society is building to secure our right to be part of the community.

The County claims that atheists don’t really celebrate the Tree of Knowledge so there is no reason to include it on the county lawn. But this really isn’t the issue. Atheists do celebrate Knowledge and for most atheists we don’t have the means to put up a personal Tree of Knowledge. You can’t go to the store and buy laminated book covers and many atheists have family members who push for the more traditional Christmas Tree.

For now, the Tree of Knowledge on the County Courthouse Lawn serves to being the greater atheistic/Humanist/Freethought community together and serves to dispel the myth that the County has endorsed the Judeo-Christian religion. Some how the County thinks that putting up a choo-choo train will do that, but what they forget is that we have built a tradition with the Tree of Knowledge over the last three years. Passing a law that deliberately excludes us is unconstitutional.

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