The Kansas City Atheist Coalition was prevented from entering into and participating in the local St. Patrick's Day Parade this year. After the group applied, it received an email from the organizers of the parade, stating their denial was because,
“We are an Irish Catholic parade.”
This, in spite of the parade website stating that parade events are open to all, Irish or not, Catholic or not. The parade is privately run, so denying the group was not a violation of any laws. However, the group decided it would still be part of the community festivities by holding an 'Ask An Atheist' event.
Members of the group sported signs they made, and stood on a high-traffic corner to answer questions, hear complaints and even stand for payers offered by bystanders – showing that atheists are just as much a part of their community as everyone else.
Sarah Hargreaves, the KCAC President, stated,
“We just want to be treated the same as everyone else. There have been and are multiple organizations participating in the parade who do not explicitly line up with Catholic beliefs – the International House of Prayer and K-Love Radio being prime examples in the past. We want to engage in respectful and civil discussion about atheism while also bringing attention to the parade organizers’ discriminatory actions.”
According to a story filed by the Religion News Service, participants in last year's parade included the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, Bob Hamilton Plumbing, the Kansas City Sheltie Rescue, and Pepsi Beverages Co., which are all secular organizations.
The Kansas City Atheist Coalition's website states that their goal was to keep the signs 'light and friendly.' Some of the signs read:
- “Why am I not in the parade? Ask me,”
- "Kiss me I’m an Irish Atheist”
- “Dear God, do leprechauns go to Heaven?”
The group also handed out small toy dinosaurs, dinosaur temporary tattoos and toy compasses to passing children for the purpose of promoting science.
Hargreaves said that some passers-by gave high-fives and fist-bumps, while others shouted “I believe in Jesus Christ!”
For more information, relevant links and commentary, please read the story at RNS