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Tree of Knowledge Event December 1st in West Chester, PA, with some historical context. November 15, 2012

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Religion, Skepticism and atheism.
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It’s beginning to look a lot like…Discrimination?

Margaret Downey helping to decorate the Tree of Knowledge in 2008

Over the least few years, the Freethought Society, led by Margaret Downey, has been involved in an effort to include atheists, humanists, and other secular people in the public holiday display area of the West Chester courthouse.  It is this very courthouse that, in early 2002, I first met Margaret Downey during the court case of whether the 10 Commandment plaque  would remain displayed there.  It still remains in place, due to it being historical since it was on the wall for 80 years.  In other words, nobody complained for many years and so it became a part of the building’s history.  What I learned from this was to complain more about violations of the church/state separation, so that this squirmy legal reasoning cannot become valid.

Starting in 2007, The Freethought Society has tried to maintain seasonal inclusion by participating in the placing of holiday displays on the court grounds, and for some years we were allowed to participate in the mostly conservative county.   The tree’s lights were vandalized a few times that first year, but it ultimately remained and the new tradition was continued the next couple of years.  In 2009, some interviews sprung up about the event, which include some video about how the tree was decorated and a little more about the history of the idea.

2010 Human Tree of Knowledge

But then in 2010, the Commissioners rejected the request to be included in the displays, and so Margaret got to work on an alternative plan; a human Tree of Knowledge, which doubled as a protest and momentary display.  The same thing happened in 2011, and now in 2012 we are left in the same situation.  The Commissioners still refuse to allow a Tree of Knowledge on the courthouse grounds, while still including the traditional Christmas and Hanukkah displays.

So, because of this continuing discrimination in West Chester, PA, Margaret Downey and many members and friends of the Freethought Society will be gathering on Saturday, December 1st 2012 in order to create a human Tree of Knowledge.  The courthouse is in the middle of West Chester, at 2 High Street, and the event will start at 3:00 PM.  

I plan on being there, and we would love to see as many people as possible come out to show your support for a great organization and to protest a discriminatory decision by the West Chester Commissioners.

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Comments»

1. Amanda B - November 16, 2012

Good for you all! If you’re not doing it already, maybe someone can hand out reading lists of the books included in the display? I know I blew up this picture to try and copy down the titles….

Best of luck with this.

2. Abolishing Resolution 58-10 (Winter displays in West Chester, PA) « atheist, polyamorous, skeptics - November 28, 2012

[…] Downey has just sent out a request for help concerning the issue of displays, including the Tree of Knowledge, at the West Chester courthouse.  Here is her […]


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