Massachusetts town paints over Noah’s Ark display on playground

A small town in Massachusetts painted over a Noah’s Ark display after an atheist group complained

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which seeks to promote atheism over all other religions in American public life, recently slew another menacing foe: a painted version of the Noh’s Ark story on a children’s playground.

Officials of the town of Ashburnham, Mass. agreed to paint over the Biblical display on a library playground after a complaint from the FFRF. The FFRF’s usual strategy is to act on the claim of an anonymous complainant, warning local authorities that a public display or practice, in this case a turning-picture game, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by somehow establishing a religion by law.

According to the Christian Post, Madeline Ziegler, an attorney at FFRF, sent a letter to Terri Antsiss, director of the library, on July 22 after the group heard from a “concerned community member.”

“Each section of the turning game contains a passage from the tale [of Noah’s Ark], which is paraphrased from the book of Genesis in order to be more easily understood,” Ziegler charged in the letter.

After citing legal precedent holding that “permanent displays on public land are government speech” and that “the display of this biblical tale on public property confers government endorsement of religion,” Ziegler complained that the Biblical display “has the effect of privileging one religion over others and alienates the nearly 26 percent of American adults who identify as nonreligious.”

The town dutifully obeyed the FFRF, painting over both sides of the display with white paint so no images could be seen.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor declared victory. “We’re pleased the town realized that allowing biblical preaching to children at a public institution isn’t in keeping with our nation’s secular ideals,” she said.


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