While reasonable people can disagree about whether a religious symbol belongs on a war memorial on public property, most would agree that politicians should not call their constituents knuckleheads. Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine seems to be the outlier here though.
Earlier this week he levied that insult at Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group from Wisconsin, that is challenging the city’s war memorial at the fire house because it features a Christian cross. Yesterday, when I asked him about it, he extended the smack down to the Woonsocket resident who brought the issue to their attention.
“I said that they were so…” Fontaine said, not quite finishing the sentence, when I asked him if he thought residents who agree that the cross violates the separation of church and state clause of the Constitution are also knuckleheads. “For them to go forward surreptitiously to try to file a complaint over a monument that has been there for over 90 years yeah my belief is that there is a better avenue to try to resolve their differences.”
On the other hand, Annie Laurie Gaylor, the co-president of Freedom From Religion, seems to think it’s somewhat knuckle-headed for a mayor to not see merit in her complaint.
“It’s like saying the Founding Fathers are knuckleheads because they created a secular government,” she told The Associated Press.
Not surprisingly, Fontaine doesn’t see it this way. “There is core foundation that this country was founded on our judeo-christian values.”
He’s wrong actually. While our founding fathers may have held judeo-christian values, those are not the values they based our democracy on. In fact, in their infinite wisdom, they made certain to keep their private beliefs separate and distinct from the kind of government they created. To confuse the two is, well, knuckle-headed.