A sign similar to this one on display now in the Wisconsin State Capitol will be placed in the Mississippi State Capitol to counter a nativity display
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has received a permit to display its Winter Solstice statement from Dec. 20 to the end of the year in the ground floor rotunda of the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson. FFRF sought the permit after complaints from its Mississippi membership that the State had allowed a life-sized nativity display to be placed in the rotunda by a so-called “9/11 remembrance” group.
The sign is scheduled to be placed on Monday.
The Madison, Wis.-based Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), with about 16,000 members nationwide. The Foundation works to protect the constitutional separation between religion and government.
FFRF protested a similar situation in Washington State in 2008, causing a firestorm of controversy in that state, with FOX TV’s Bill O’Reilly leading the attack. As a result, Washington State officials in 2009 decided to disallow any personal displays or public forums inside its Capitol in the future. FFRF claimed victory with this very satisfactory conclusion.
"We don't think religion, or irreligion, belongs in state capitols," noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation Co-President. The backside of FFRF’s sign notes: “Keep State & Church separate.”
“But if a state is going to permit a nativity, then we want to be sure that the views of the 15 percent of the U.S. population that is not religious is also represented."
Gaylor further objected to the implication that only Christians died in the 9/11 attacks. “The sectarian message excludes the nonreligious and nonChristian victims of that attack.”
The pretty gilt display contains a secular message which 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.
"This sign is a reminder of the real reason for the season, the Winter Solstice," said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president and author of the book, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.
The Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, takes place on Tuesday, 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.
An engraved sign with the same wording has been erected by the Foundation for 15 Decembers in a row at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.
FFRF thanked Mississippi activists and members for help in coordinating the effort.