Group 'shocked' after memorial bombed, still want cross removed
COOS BAY, Ore. -- The group that called for the cross on the veteran's memorial in Coos Bay to be removed, says they are "dismayed and shocked," after someone detonated an IED at the memorial.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent out a statement, saying that although they still want the cross removed, they don't condone the damage to the memorial.
In the release, the FFRF says they have had threats of violence, as well as having billboards and banners vandalized, and condemn what they called a violent and reckless act.
The Vietnam Memorial featuring the cross came under criticism from a the FFRF, who are a group opposed to religious symbols on public property.
The memorial has since been vandalized by people both in favor of and against keeping the memorial.
The explosion prompted the City of Coos Bay to delay an upcoming meeting regarding the memorial.
Police said Friday that parks personnel reported "criminal mischief" at the memorial, possibly from an IED.
Oregon State Police explosive specialists responded the park from their Central Point office to investigate, police said.
North Coos 911 received several reports of a loud noise in the area of Coos Bay City Hall and Mingus Park, according to police. Police officers responded to that area at the time and were unable to find anyone in the area or anything out of ordinary.
Parks employees reported the criminal mischief just before 9 a.m. Friday morning.
Police ask anyone with information on the explosion or who may have seen anything suspicious in the Mingus Park area between 11 p.m. Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday to call the Coos Bay Police Department at 541-269-8911 or Coos Stop Crime at 541-267-6666.
Read the entire release here:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was dismayed and shocked to learn of an explosion in Coos Bay, Ore., late last week at a public park where FFRF has formally objected to a Christian cross atop a veterans' memorial. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the war memorial appears to be undamaged. Police have not released details on what the device was.
FFRF condemns this violent and reckless act. We are in fact not aware of any act of violence committed by a nonbeliever in the name of keeping religion out of government. We have had FFRF billboards and banners vandalized and stolen on occasion, and been the recipient of many threats of violence over the years, so we know how it feels. Dynamiting the Buddhas at Bamiyan or terrorizing abortion clinics are the tyrannical tactics of religious fanatics, not the Freedom From Religion Foundation. We have never, and will never, advocate or employ violence against those with whom we disagree.
FFRF, a longstanding, non profit organization with almost 20,000 members, polices Jefferson's "wall of separation between church and state" through peaceful, educational means. FFRF's goal is to ensure that the government complies with constitutional principles that are a bedrock of our secular republic. We expressly do not accomplish that mission by inciting anyone to lawlessness quite the opposite. We encourage members and citizens to stand up for the law the First Amendment, which protects all of us, by engaging in educational activities.
Nor would we suggest or assume that those with whom we disagree are guilty of violence simply because we disagree ideologically. There are many right-wing Christian legal groups against whom we constantly battle, but all those conflicts occur peacefully, in court of law or public debates.
Unfortunately, Hiram Sasser, an attorney at the Liberty Institute, one of the newer right-wing Christian legal groups, appears not to share our scruples. According to Fox News, "Sasser called on the FFRF to stop 'fanning the flames of hostility toward veterans memorials.' " Sasser [italic]knows[italic] that FFRF has no objection to veterans memorials. More than 24% of our membership are veterans. We object to government endorsements of Christianity, and government war memorials that honor only Christian vets and exclude others.
Sasser knows of our position, because he is working with Coos Bay and he's read the multiple letters we sent the city. FFRF's has reiterated time and again: "We have no objection to the veterans' memorials. Our objection is to the message of endorsement of Christianity over other religions and non-religions." Despite this clear statement, Sasser attempts to slur FFRF as anti-veteran.
It's therefore very unfortunate that, according to Fox News Sasser also said, "These people will stop at nothing to intimidate communities to tear down their veterans memorials. Now the crazies are trying to blow one up." FFRF again calls on the city of Coos Bay to honor all veterans and to end the divisiveness of the Mingus Park cross by removing it from public property.