And a Jaunty “Reason's Greetings” Billboard Goes Up in Near Eastside
’Tis the season . . . for the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s gilt “Winter Solstice” message, which returns for its 13th visit to the first-floor rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol for the month of December.
The Foundation has added a colorful billboard to its Winter Solstice repertoire in Madison this year, erected last week for the month of December on Madison's near eastside. Employing a stained-glass motif with holly, the cheerful billboard message says: “Reason’s Greetings.” The billboard is on an Adams Outdoor billboard leased on the side of Wilson’s Bar & Grill, 2144 Atwood Ave., near Schenck's Corners, facing traffic bound downtown.
The Capitol Winter Solstice message is the same, but the golden sign is bright and new. The secular message, composed by Anne Nicol Gaylor, Foundation co-president emerita, reads:
“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.”
What is new is the message on the back, a poem by celebrated Wisconsin poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox (“Laugh and the world laughs with you”).
Her 4-line poem, “The World's Need,” inscribed on the back of the plaque, reads:
So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs.
The line, “State/Church Keep Them Separate” also appears on the back.
“This sign is a reminder of the real reason for the season, the Winter Solstice,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
The Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, takes place early on Dec. 21. The natural holiday signals the return of the sun and the new year, and has been celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere with festivals of light, evergreens, feasts and gift exchanges.
“We nonbelievers don’t mind sharing the season with Christians,” Gaylor adds, “but we think there should be some acknowledgment that the Christians really ‘stole’ the trimmings of Christmas, and the sun-god myths, from pagans.”
Foundation co-president Dan Barker flew to Olympia, Wash. yesterday to dedicate the first Winter Solstice display at the Washington State Capitol. A sign with similar wording was erected to protest religious symbols in the Washington State Capitol, at the request of area members. A “Reason’s Greetings” billboard was also unveiled yesterday in downtown Olympia, with the signs attracting statewide attention."