News & Blog

Virginia Atheists Wrest State’s DMVs from Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Control

Richmond, VA—On Saturday, September 21, Virginia atheists tabled outside of two Department of Motor Vehicle centers. American Atheists had received multiple complaints that Jehovah’s Witnesses were proselytizing outside of facilities.

“We would rather that government property be free of religious speech altogether. However, to ensure religious equality for everyone, including atheists, I applied for equal access to two separate DMV locations, and will continue to request access on a regular basis,” said American Atheists’ Virginia State Director Larry Mendoza, whose request was accepted by the Commissioner of the Virginia DMV Richard D. Holcomb on September 11. “I applaud the Commissioner’s decision to promote religious diversity. No one group should completely take over a public location.”

On Saturday, Mendoza, Assistant State Director for Chesterfield Dusty Sabourin, and her local secular parenting group Little Heathens of RVA tabled at the West Henrico DMV in Richmond.

“I was surprised to see Jehovah’s Witnesses outside the DMV promoting their idea of family values, especially given how they treat those who have chosen to leave their religion,” said Sabourin. “A large part of my group’s mission is to provide much needed community for people and families who have left religions like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

That same day, American Atheists’ Assistant State Director for Virginia Beach Aiden Barnes and Assistant State Director for Newport News Matthew DeGrave tabled at the Hampton DMV on behalf of their local group, Southeastern Virginia Atheists, Skeptics & Humanists (a chapter of Washington Area Secular Humanists).

“It was great to answer all of the passersby’s questions on atheism and the separation of religion and government,” said Barnes. “We are looking forward to holding this event again—and at even more locations.” 

“We call on all religious minority communities—including Buddhists and Satanists—to make use of the DMV’s space,” said DeGrave. “When Virginians hear all the different religious viewpoints that claim to be right, they’ll soon realize that none is.”