Illinois police protect atheist sign

Dec. 24, 2009 at 9:50 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- A conservative candidate for Illinois comptroller was ordered out of the state Capitol for trying to remove a sign placed by an atheist group, officials said.

William J. Kelly calls the sign, placed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, "hate speech," saying it mocks the views of believers, CBS2Chicago.com reported. He announced Tuesday he was going to try to remove it and made his attempt Wednesday, only to be detained by police.

"I don't think the State of Illinois has any business denigrating or mocking any religion, and I think that's what the verbiage on the sign was doing," Kelly said.

The foundation has placed similar signs in several state capitol buildings. It was on display in the Illinois Capitol last year.

The group's message reads: "At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

The Illinois holiday display includes a Christmas tree and nativity scene and a message from the American Civil Liberties Union that it supports freedom of religion. A Jewish menorah was removed at the end of the Hanukkah festival.

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