Tis the Season
(MADISON, WI) 'Tis the season . . . for the Freedom From Religion Foundation's gilt "Winter Solstice" message, which is back in the first-floor rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol for the month of December. It is believed to be the only nonreligious display in any state capitol, and this marks the 11th year of its display.
The sign, with a secular message written by Anne Nicol Gaylor, the founder of the national, Madison, Wis.-based association, beseeches:
"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."
The back of the sign reads: "State/Church: Keep Them Separate," and carries a little taped-on caveat, advising "Thou shalt not steal."
The Foundation seeks to balance the yearly nativity pageant which takes over the Capitol, the many Christmas activities, a menorah with a religious sign and other displays of religion at the Wisconsin State Capitol during this time of year.
The sign reminds citizens of the "real reason for the season, the impending Winter Solstice (Dec. 21)," says Dan Barker, Foundation co-president.
The Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, signals the return of the sun and the new year, and has been celebrated by pagans for a millennia with festivals of light, evergreens, feasts and gift exchanges.
"Freethinkers don't mind sharing the season with Christians, but we think there should be an acknowledgment of the natural origins of many of December's customs," he added.
Barker pointed out that the state-hosted tree, while officially called a "holiday tree," this year contains many overtly Christian ornaments, including crosses, and cross ornaments bearing such messages as "Believe," and "Faith." Some ornaments depict nativity scenes and or contain Christian messages.
"The state-hosted tree that dominates the rotunda for a full month should not be used to promote one religious viewpoint, or to perpetuate the myth that Christians have a monopoly on this natural holiday. There were no Jewish or Hindu ornaments, for instance. Why should Christian messages be furthered by the state?""