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Religious Vandals Attack Humanist Coffeehouse

by Fritz Stevens

It was bound to happen eventually. San Diego's Thomas Paine Coffeehouse, gathering place for local freethinkers and community center for everyone from teens to seniors, recently experienced the wrath of religious extremists.

First, books criticizing Christian theology were defaced or removed from the Coffeehouse library. Then in the early hours of an August morning eggs were flung at the glass storefront and sign. Later that Sunday morning, an anonymous phone caller announced that this was a "warning" and that "heretics must heed the word of God." More eggs pelted the glass storefront the next morning, and then again on Wednesday morning. Tuesday afternoon a visitor entered the coffeehouse and began a sermon accusing patrons of sinfulness and heresy; with assurances that hellfire awaits. When it became obvious that the visitor was serious, he was politely asked to leave.

Police reports were taken following each incident, and the area's primary newspaper, the San Diego Union and local television stations were notified. Unfortunately the media declined to investigate or report upon the vandalism. We expect that if such assaults were directed upon a church or temple, the story would have received at least some mention if not considerable coverage.

Perhaps with its library/bookstore, its schedule of humanist/skeptic and music events, not to mention great food, coffee drinks and internet stations, the coffeehouse has given some folks something to worry about.

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This page was last updated 12/04/2003

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