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Reid Gets Attention for Calling Atheist Group Terrorists

Leesburg supervisor later apologizes for remarks in response to courthouse holiday display debate.

Loudoun has again managed to make its decisions regarding courthouse lawn holiday displays a hot topic this year.

The county has for several years debated what types of displays would be permitted and how individuals or groups could apply to create the displays. The long tradition had been for a local group to place a nativity scene at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, but in recent years, that arrangement has been questioned as the state potentially sanctioning religion.

At one point, unattended holiday displays were permitted on a limited number of spaces at the courthouse by application. The resulting so Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors assigned a committee to make recommendations on the display shortly after taking office in 2012. They voted in February to restrict unattended displays. In July, they approved a county-sponsored, taxpayer-funded Christmas tree, menorah, nativity scene and Santa Claus

As this holiday season rolled around, opponents of that decision have been critical – most notably, Supervisor Ken Reid, who called an atheist group terrorists in a recent Washington Times article.

A Washington Post blog and local media organizations picked up the story, along with the Huffington Post. Reid later apologized for the remarks.

Patch received letters to the editor this weekend about the controversy. One letter criticized Reid for his comments, while the other criticized the atheist group involved in the controversy.

What should the county do about the holiday displays? How do you feel about the attention the issue has brought to Loudoun?

joe brewer December 03, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Get rid of em all. I don't need a tree to relate to the Christmas spirt or a church to relate to God.
Marcus Aurelius December 03, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I'd love to see a single, nicely lit tree with a simple message of peace, brotherhood and harmony during the holiday season.
joe brewer December 03, 2012 at 07:14 PM
To me it's a Christmas holiday season for the reasons above.
M.V. December 03, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I live in Leesburg and love the holiday season. Personally I celebrate Christmas, but I love to see the celebration of any holiday! Why is this so difficult? We ar trying to teach are children acceptance, but this is the worst example of true acceptance. BTW...just because there are displays on the courthouse lawn does mean that the State is telling us to beleive in that one thing! It means that we are a culturally diverse area and we should celebrate our differences, but in a mature, respectful way! Grow up people and enjoy the season with your neighbors of all beliefs!
Vox December 03, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Let me ask, which view is more in line with the concept of acceptance of all beliefs: the view that anyone who wishes to put up a display, whether religious or secular, should have that opportunity; or the view that only one or two religions should be represented and that anyone who disagrees is a "terrorist"? The first is the position of American Atheists and was the status quo until this Board changed the rules; the second is the position of Supervisor Ken Reid.
joe brewer December 04, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Before Thanksgiving we had given the turkey of the Year award to Ken Reid. He proves us correct in our assessment every time he opens his mouth. Now he has a leg up on next years great gobbler award.
kathleen fergus December 04, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Another loud mouth politician without a clue. Leave the displays. We are all citizens, we all live in Loudoun. It's the county courthouse, and we all pay county taxes. Just because we all have different beliefs doesn't mean we need to shut down the beliefs or non-beliefs of others. Having said that, I don't see why atheists feel the need to mark the season in any particular way. These people seem like they are hungry for a little attention.
Blaire Ring December 04, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I am not religious and do not identify myself with a particular religion...but I was horrified by the skeleton Santa last year and honestly hope that never happens again. Especially now that my daughter is old enough to recognize it and ask questions.
Amy December 04, 2012 at 03:26 PM
The main problem is that the Board of Supervisors spent $4,000 of county taxpayer money on a display that only recognizes two religions (Christianity and Judaism) and unleashes the extra burden of requiring anyone who feels the display doesn't speak for them to personally attend their own display. Lack of equal access and improper use of public funds are the main issues here.
Sandy Schoonmaker December 04, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I agree with M.V. We should be able to publicly celebrate any religious holiday, including displays on public property. The atheists are not attempting to celebrate anything. Rather, they seek to destroy the joy that people of all religions want to share when they celebrate their religious beliefs. If the atheists believe in anything productive rather than nihilistic, let them show it by displaying something positive and uplifting.
Charlie December 04, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Massive amounts of evidence from both quantum physics and astrophysics unequivocaly indicates that the known Universe (and, in all probability, multiple universes) began as a Big Bang. The resulting explosion produced the four fundamental forces, created spacetime, and incorporated mass into matter. Billions of years later, on at least one planet, cellular life developed from a rich nutrient broth; the great diversity of life we now see is strictly the result of evolution by natural selection. So it's pretty clear that nothing in our Universe came about through supernatural means. Anything related to the worship of supernatural entities is nothing more than a denial of the evidence. That being said, I don't mind if people put up displays for Jesus, Mohammed, Yahweh, or Tinker Bell -- as long as there's something else to honor atheism and scientific rationalism.
joe brewer December 04, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Go try and put your displays up at the Sheriffs stations, the CIA buildings or any other government owned building. It ain't gonna happen. It's government property paid for with tax dollars and does not give anyone the right to put up any kind of display. The Board of Supervisors has overstepped it's authority allowing displays. These displays and the nonsense uttered by Ken Reid are proof positive that they don’t belong anywhere near a government building.
Jake December 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Religious displays have no place on government property. Period. Our supervisors just don't get it. They are so out of touch.
joe brewer December 04, 2012 at 07:14 PM
amen brother!
Jaxmanjoe December 04, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Remember that the skeleton Santa display was put up by a Christian boy, not an atheist group. That fact seems to keep getting lost in this debate...
Jerry Palmer December 04, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Please no more displays next year - make this nonsense stop! We are embarrassing Leesburg once again!
Carmen Pretopapa December 05, 2012 at 04:21 AM
The fact is that it IS the Christmas season! If it weren't for Christmas, we would not be celebrating anything. Why are these people trying to negate the holiday? We have been celebrating Christmas forever. What is so wrong with Christians celebrating out holiday? If you are not in agreement with our national Christian holiday, look the other way. We don't tell you to not celebrate your holidays, (read, holy days). We respect yours, please respect our....
Cathy December 09, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I don't think the atheists are gonna win the holiday decorations contest this year. Maybe they should look into some lights, trees and tinsel...music...Yay! Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
Barbara Munsey December 09, 2012 at 09:54 PM
jaxman, the narrative that the "christian HS student" put up a display that was his personal belief that Christmas has become overcommercialized was busted last year, even on HuffPo--his mother wrote in the atheist discussion group that he was presenting with her (the letter from Jesus), neither lived in Loudoun, he had already graduated from Fauquier HS at the time, and so on. I understand that it makes a much better story to frame him that way, but it simply wasn't the case, as even relatively disinterested parties who investigated the contrived hoopla from elsewhere noted last year: http://bainwaves.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/a-weighin-a-manger/ Apparently the community college/hs student's mom had already discussed SkeleSanta with the group as an appropriate display for the atheist offerings before an application was ever submitted in his name.
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