Tree of Knowledge 2009

Margaret Downey has found two donors to meet the $5,000 bond requirement to put up The Tree of Knowledge at the Free Speech Zone in Chester County, Pennsylvania. If the application is approved, the tree will be installed on Monday, November 30, 2009. Everyone is welcome to help. Meet at the Chester County Courthouse located at 2 High Street, West Chester. We will get started at 9:00 AM. Will know by Monday, November 23, 2009.

The following are two news stories recently published about the Tree of Knowledge for this season.

First Request Denied:

"I have no objection to the Freethought Society putting a banner up," said Councilwoman Carolyn Comitta. "My only concern is that it promote a community event, and I don't see this banner doing that."

Council President Sue Bayne said that, if the banner read "Happy Holidays from the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia," it would be probably be acceptable. The holidays, Bayne said, could reasonably be defined as a community event. Borough Manager Ernie McNeely said that, if the sign instead ended with "Please visit our Tree of Knowledge display on the courthouse lawn," it might be acceptable. The Tree of Knowledge, McNeely said, is at least physically within the borough.

Margaret Downey, the founder of the Freethought Society, said that she might try again to have a banner put up. She said that she will reconsider the wording of the banner. And, she said, she will consider holding an event that the banner could advertise.

"This time, we might consider holding a particular event, such as Human Light," Downey said. She said that "Human Light" would be a "humanistic celebration of the season" and would feature guest speakers, socializing, and refreshments.

Chester County Commissioners Adopt Holiday Display Rules:

On Tuesday, Downey had appeared at the commissioners' work session to complain that the new regulations would unfairly limit the number of organizations that could erect displays to three. She said the rules themselves stated that the purpose of the displays was to promote the diversity of the community.

"If the commissioners really care about equality, respect and appreciation of diversity, the problem of irrational display placements should be addressed now," Downey said. She also complained that the traditional Christian créche display was given a spot at the center of the courthouse lawn, pushing her group's "Tree of Knowledge" to the side under trees, when that space could better accommodate the créche.

Downey did not appear at Thursday's meeting, and the commissioners did not address her concerns about the placement of the créhe.