FFRF member gets ‘atheist’ flag up in N.H.

FFRF has proudly raised its unique flag to honor freethought and to protest a New Hampshire town’s Ten Commandments monument.

On Jan. 2, FFRF Member Richard Gagnon hoisted the “A” flag in Somersworth, N.H. The flag remained up in the “Citizen’s Place” traffic island through the end of January. The red “A” was adopted by Richard Dawkins as a symbol of atheism and agnosticism.

“Let us all come together as believers and nonbelievers. Judge us not by who we are. Judge us by how we treat one another,” Gagnon said.

In 2017, the city installed two flagpoles near a contentious Ten Commandments monument for community groups to celebrate events. The addition of something other than a Judeo-Christian symbol is an attempted gesture by the city to get around legal precedent against stand-alone Ten Commandments markers on public property.

“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 reports.  “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.”

FFRF’s flag was initially meant to go up on Dec. 4. Due to an anticipated backlash to a December display, Hilliard suggested a postponement, and Gagnon agreed to the move. Hilliard declared January as “Diversity and Tolerance Month.”

FFRF has asked for several years that the Ten Commandments monument be removed. In the meantime, FFRF hopes the flag will provide some balance, albeit temporarily, to Somersworth’s blatantly Christian endorsement.

FFRF Member Richard Gagnon raises the ‘A’ flag next to a Ten Commandments monument on city property on Jan. 2. (Photo by Kimberley Haas/Union Leader Correspondent)
Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard, left, and FFRF Member Richard Gagnon show off the freethinking atheist flag in front of a portrait of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Both the flag and the portrait were on display in Somersworth during the month of January. (Photo by Kimberley Haas/Union Leader Correspondent)
The ‘A’ flag flies during a snowstorm in Somersworth.