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FFRF raises freethought flag in N.H. town

FFRF unfurled the banner of freethought in a New Hampshire community for the second year in a row.

On Jan. 2, FFRF and local member Richard Gagnon hoisted an “A” flag in Somersworth, N.H., to honor nonbelief. The flag remained up in the “Citizens Place” traffic island until Jan. 11. The red “A” was adopted by Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, as a symbol of atheism and agnosticism.

In 2017, the city installed two flagpoles near a contentious Ten Commandments monument for community groups to commemorate special occasions.

“The 3,000-pound monolith was knocked down in August 2016, setting off a new round of discussions as to whether or not the religious symbol violates the constitutional provision of separation of church and state,” the local paper reported then. “In determining whether the Ten Commandments monument should be restored, Mayor Dana Hilliard offered a plan to create a citizen’s park, adding two flagpoles which could be used by civic groups to celebrate important events.” 

The Somersworth mayor, who was present at the flag-raising ceremony, waxed eloquent on the occasion.

“Today in the smallest city in New Hampshire, Dr. King’s dream is reinforced by Richard Gagnon going to the flagpole and having his chance,” Hilliard said. “Somersworth will once again prove to New Hampshire and the nation that we stand by our Hilltopper values of honoring each other. Let us in this month continue to reflect on Dr. King’s words, and his dream of understanding and equality for all,”

The display of nonbelief on the pole during the full month of January 2018 passed off without incident.

“It was the first time we were making a statement, and it was not vandalized,” says Gagnon.

Incidentally, New Hampshire is the least religious state in the country, according to a 2015 Gallup survey.