Over the weekend, we told you about the Freedom From Religion Foundation's (FFRF) anti-Easter banner that was posted in a park in Streator, Illinois. The sign, which was intended to combat crosses and a Christian, pro-Easter message posted in the same park, has now reportedly gone missing and atheists are offering a $1,500 reward for information about the crime.
According to the FFRF, a church-state separatist group, the banner, which read, "Nobody died for your sins. Jesus Christ is a myth," was taken on Saturday. The atheist organization subsequently reported the sign missing to the Streator Police Department and also told authorities about alleged damage to the posts holding it up.
"It is so dismaying to see mob rule prevail. This vandalism amounts to censorship and suppression of minority viewpoints," proclaimed Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF. "This crime against our banner shows the harm when a local government purports to create a 'public forum' for religion on government property. The only viewpoint that is going to be heard in Streator is a Christian viewpoint."
In an effort to find the individual or individuals behind the crime, the organization has promised the $1,500 financial reward. MyWebTimes.com reports that the offenses committed -- both the theft and vandalism -- are misdemeanors. But due to the fact that it was the atheistic message that was being targeted, FFRF staff attorney Patrick Elliot maintains that the action could be treated as a Class 4 felony under the state's hate crime law.
A replacement may be hung in the coming days. Since the group originally had until April 13 to hang its initial anti-Jesus banner, they will be able to display a new one until the same date.