For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC, December 7, 2009) The American Humanist Association announced today they were pleased that nontheists were included in a government-sponsored holiday event in Colorado this past weekend. The Colorado Coalition of Reason (COCOR) was permitted by Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden to participate in the “Apparently Annual Politically Incorrect Christmas Tree Trimming Party,” which was held outside the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Administration on Saturday. COCOR, with legal advice from the American Humanist Association, had asked to be included in the celebration amidst concerns that the event was going to unlawfully promote Christianity.
“We were pleased that the situation was resolved after the intervention of the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center and local humanist activists,” said AHA President David Niose.
The American Humanist Association first became involved when COCOR’s Marvin Straus contacted them for advice regarding Sheriff Alderden’s holiday display in Fort Collins, Colorado. The principle display would be a “politically incorrect” nativity scene with a lighting ceremony held on Saturday, December 5.
Straus already had plans to request Sheriff Alderden cease the practice of placing a nativity scene on public property, as he had done in 2007 and 2008. The AHA’s Legal Center suggested that if the nativity scene were not taken down that the coalition should ask to put up their own display on the Administration Building’s grounds. The Legal Center then joined Straus and Sheriff Alderden in a conference call, in which the Sheriff refused to remove the nativity scene but allowed the coalition to display their own sign and invited members of the coalition to the lighting ceremony.
“While the American Humanist Association feels that publicly sponsored prayer ceremonies such as Sheriff Alderden’s are inappropriate, we nevertheless appreciate that the ceremony was made a bit more inclusive by allowing a secular humanist sign,” said Niose.
COCOR’s sign wishes love, illumination and celebration for all during the Winter Solstice. Reports indicate the lighting ceremony went well, and the American Humanist Association was pleased Straus was invited to speak at the event.
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.