Bethel, CT took front and center in the local media last year around the holidays. The issue at hand was holiday signage in PT Barnum Square. For many years, local religious groups would put holiday signs in the square and last year an Atheist organization petitioned the Town of Bethel to do the same. I wrote the article about it for the I-95 website last year. The Atheist organization wanted to put up a sign that would read:
"This season, no matter what you celebrate or why, Happy Holidays! - your atheist neighbors."
Bethel eventually allowed the atheist sign and First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker did a great job navigating tricky religious waters and dealing with the media. We even had him on the Ethan and Lou Show back then to discuss the issue. Then, nine months of debate and planning went into the issue to develop a plan for this coming holiday season. Basically, any religious or non-religious group who follows the correct sign application process, in accordance with the local code, that is approved, would be able to display a holiday sign in the local square. There is one wrinkle, if so many organizations apply that there is not enough room for all of them, the approved signs will be entered into a lottery.
According to The Patch, the Town of Bethel is reviewing applications for signs from five local groups. There's an application for the Christmas creche that has gone up year after year, the atheist sign application is back and being reviewed and three more are in the review process. One is a sign that would read "Peace", then another would be a six foot Menorah and finally there is a sign application for a banner that says "Human Light." That one is from a group that celebrates a secular humanist holiday.
While I like to be a troublemaker, in this particular case, it's the Town officials I feel bad for, they will never make everyone happy. I'm a religious person and I can see how the appearance of an atheist sign in the middle of Town might have bothered me, after years of there being a Christmas creche put there. To me, if they don't believe in a God or Gods, if they believe religion is a set of pointless rituals and symbols, then they should act accordingly. If it represents nothing to you, why let it bother you? That's what happened, no matter what anyone says publicly, local atheists were mad that these religious groups, would "push their religion" on others. That's how they would say it, if they would admit it made them mad but they never will.
That's where the pissing contest began and it will never end, never. This year it's five signs, next year seven, eventually the Bethel runs out of room in the square and they have this dreaded lottery they are talking about. Someone will be left out, that group will say the lottery was rigged and it gets worse from there. There are more lawyers, court dates, people marching all over the square before, during and after the holidays. This will never be undone, it's just like trying to keep things fair for children, it never works. Good luck to the folks in Bethel that have to make these decisions and good luck to the residents with the downfield vision to steer clear of the issue and mind their business.
There is a special town meeting tonight (11/12/19) in the Bethel Municipal Center, Room A, at 6:30 pm to discuss the matter.
Feel free to stop by Grassy Plain Vape Smoke and CBD on your way to the meeting or back from it, tonight. We can answer all your questions about our wonderful, third-party tested Green Gorilla CBD products or just get you into a new bowl or pipe. We are at 39A Grassy Plain Street in Bethel. If you are on the other side of Danbury, visit our other campus at 197 Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield, right on the Redding border.
What am I going to do with/about all of this? I'll soak this issue for every ounce of content I can, hell, I hope it intensifies. There is nothing better than watching people lose their minds over things that are not going to hurt/benefit them in any way.
Author - Lou Milano - I-95 (WRKI) Morning Show/GPVS Digital Editor