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They’re sincere about it, too.

The Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers gave their “Person of the Year” award to Rev. Mike Burr:

The Atheists and Freethinkers group presented Burr with the Person of the Year award at their monthly meeting Sunday at Mesa Mall’s Community Room.

Burr was unanimously chosen for his work with peace and social/environmental justice issues; his leadership in advocating for the poor, disadvantaged and exploited; his advocacy of separation of church and state; his opposition to recent wars waged by the United States; and his opposition to anti-Muslim views and actions.

“I’ve been a staunch advocate of separation of church and state all my life,” Burr said.

So when the atheists and freethinkers group clashed with city and county officials a couple of years ago regarding the issue of prayer at public meetings, Burr defended the group’s position.

“We’re very supportive of the atheists’ stand on that government has no place establishing any kind of religious observance,” Burr said.

“He’s a very fine human being,” former WCAF president Earle Mullen said. “He has a long history of service in this community and other places.”

The award doesn’t mean WCAF members agree with all of his ideas — for examples, Burr believes that evolution and faith are compatible — but it’s still a very nice gesture.

Moral of the story: You don’t have to agree on theology to be on the right side of common decency.

The fact that this type of “cross-appreciation” doesn’t happen more often has everything to do with the lack of Christians who openly support social justice and equality… as well as atheists who want nothing to do with religious people whatsoever.

WCAF and Burr both deserve credit for breaking that mold.