December 9, 2002
(MADISON, WI) The Freedom From Religion Foundation's gilt "Winter Solstice" sign returned today to the Wisconsin State Capitol for the seventh year in a row. It says:
"At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail.
"There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
"There is only our natural world.
"Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
"We think it is important during December that the nonreligious views held by at least 14% of the Wisconsin population be represented at our State Capitol," commented Foundation president Anne Gaylor. The capitol so often is taken over with symbols and events reflecting only the majority Christian viewpoint, she pointed out.
"It is a fact that Christians stole Christmas," said Gaylor. "We don't mind sharing it with them, but we don't like this pretense that it originates with the birthday of Jesus. It is the 'Birthday of the Unconquered Sun--Dies Natalis Invicti Solis.' Christmas is a relic of sun worship.
"I have often said I am quite willing to celebrate the fun parts of anybody's holiday, but spare me the religious schmaltz," she added.
"The customs of this time of year endure because they are pleasant customs. The evergreens displayed now as in centuries past flourish when all else seems dead, and are symbols, as is the returning sun, of enduring life.
"In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality."
The Foundation asked the Capitol police for special attention in protecting the sign, for which the Foundation has a permit. Last year, the inserts were stolen and never recovered. The Capitol Police have surveillance videos at all exits. The back of the sign reads: "State/Church: Keep Them Separate," and carries a little caveat, advising "Thou shalt not steal."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was founded as a national organization in 1978, working to promote freethought and keep state and church separate. It has won two significant federal court victories this year.