- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2014

A fire department in Utica, N.Y., is facing fire from atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation for a sign posted outside its door that reads: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS WE LOVE YOU.”

The FFRF sent a letter to Utica Fire Department Station 4 demanding that officials take down the sign, saying it’s little more than a “religious endorsement,” The Blaze reported.

This is the second time the organization has contacted the station about the sign. In April, FFRF officials wrote to Chief Russell Brooks directly, after a “concerned area resident” complained, the news outlet reported.

Chief Brooks ignored the letter in April, saying the station had already won a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union in 2007.

“I was advised by the Thomas Law Center that we were well within our rights to display our Christmas sign,” Chief Brooks wrote back to the FFRF, The Blaze said. “In addition, they would support us, as well as any efforts from any organizations looking to prevent us from doing so.”

The FFRF isn’t give up.

“About 20 percent of Utica citizens are nonreligious and others follow non-Christian faiths — and that included Utica firefighters,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the co-president of the FFRF, in a statement reported by The Blaze. “How would Brooks feel if his local government put up a sign saying, ‘Happy Birthday, Mohammed. We love you!’? This sign is equally inappropriate because government bodies should not take sides on religion.”

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