American Atheists, Inc.
December 20, 2011



For more information, please contact:
Dave Silverman, President 732-648-9333
Blair Scott, Communications Director 256-701-6265
Justin Griffith, Military Director 239-689-0323 




An atheist civil rights group today applauded the final decision by Travis Air Force Base to allow an atheist display alongside other religious holiday displays. 


Travis AFB put up a religious holiday display, garnering the attention of American Atheists and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. A local atheist stationed at the base contacted American Atheists to help put up an atheist display to challenge the base's claim that all sides would be represented, including a hastily added menorah to offset the clearly Christian theme. 


David Silverman, President of American Atheists, stated, "We agreed to pay for a display but the base chaplain refused to allow it and refused to provide the reason for the denial in writing. The chaplain stated he was following orders from the Air Mobility Command." 


After pressure from civil rights groups, Travis AFB agreed to include the display. The sign said "HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON from the ATHEISTS at Travis M*A*S*H" and included a link to the group's Facebook page and a picture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. American Atheists printed the sign only to have the base again refuse the sign because of the link to the Facebook page. The sign was altered and finally allowed to go up. 


Blair Scott, Communications Director for American Atheists, said, "We got the runaround but ultimately were victorious. Thanks to the base's unconstitutional action the Travis M*A*S*H group gained a lot of new members. The military is supposed to defend our Constitution, not violate it. We are pleased that this issue has been resolved without litigation." 


Justin Griffith, Military Director for American Atheists, stated, "We are especially grateful to the actions and constitutional heroism of Staff Sergeant Dan Rawlings, who stood up for the rights of all non-religious airmen stationed at Travis AFB and for starting the M*A*S*H group. He is a shining example of the 21% of active duty personnel who are non-religious." 


Mr. Griffith continued, "The win is bittersweet. The local atheist group is still unable to meet on post. The same chaplain who initially denied the the sign also communicated the continued refusal to provide meaningful support for the atheist group." 


American Atheists is demanding that the chaplaincy reverse the decision and allow Staff Sergeant Rawlings to schedule meetings in the chapel like all the other groups. 


AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide organization that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church-mosque-temple and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.  


Travis M*A*S*H: 


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