KANSAS CITY, Mo. (RNS) Among the constant flow of people wearing green, toting beers and milling around the bars in Kansas City’s Westport neighborhood on Sunday (March 17), a man in a red plaid kilt held a sign that said, “Kiss me – I’m a Left-handed, Red-headed, Kilt-wearing Irish Atheist Stepchild!”
But the parade website specifies that parade events are “open to all, Irish or not, Catholic or not.”
In response to the denial, coalition members created an event they called “Ask an Atheist.” The group held homemade signs on a popular corner near the parade route and fielded questions, complaints and even prayers from bystanders.
KCAC members said on Sunday that the protest was about more than just exclusion from the parade.
“We just want to be treated the same as everyone else,” said Sarah Hargreaves, president of the KCAC. “There have been and are multiple organizations participating in the parade who do not explicitly line up with Catholic beliefs – the International House of Prayer and K-Love Radio being prime examples in the past.”
Last year’s participants included the Kansas City Renaissance Festival; Bob Hamilton Plumbing, the Kansas City Sheltie Rescue, an animal-rescue group; and Pepsi Beverages Co., all secular organizations.
According to the KCAC’s website, their goal was to keep the signs light and friendly: “We want to engage in respectful and civil discussion about atheism while also bringing attention to the parade organizers’ discriminatory actions.” Sign slogans included “Why am I not in the parade? Ask me,” “Kiss me I’m an Irish Atheist” and “Dear God, do leprechauns go to Heaven?”
In addition to the signs, the organization handed out toy dinosaurs, dinosaur temporary tattoos and toy compasses to passing children to promote science.
According to Hargreaves, some people gave high-fives or fist bumps in passing, while a few others shouted, “I believe in Jesus Christ!”
AMB END MORROW