State/Church FAQ

How you can balance or protest holiday displays on public property

FFRF can help you to counteract devotional displays on governmental property. FFRF's ultimate goal is to persuade governmental bodies to end public forums for religion in December, or any time. Religion is divisive and the public square gets very cluttered around Christmas. 

But even if equal-time displays don't always end such forums, they do ensure that nonbelievers are represented. FFRF and many members have been successful in balancing religion in such forums, ensuring atheists and agnostics are not turned into outsiders at the seat of our own governments during the holiday season. A case in point is FFRF's annual display at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

'TIS THE SEASON . . . TO BALANCE STATE/CHURCH VIOLATIONS

1foundersnativityBANNERS AND CHARMING CUT-OUT DISPLAY AVAILABLE FOR YOU

FFRF has produced a variety of Winter Solstice displays to balance nativity displays at public forums. (Scroll to the end to see banners. We also have many of the red "no gods banner.) With the gracious help of artist Jake Fortin and our Chicago chapter, FFRF has been excited to unveil our new 4-by-5.5 foot aluminum cutout display, suitable for outdoors, depicting a "Bill of Rights nativity." (See graphic on right. An explanitory sign comes with it, scroll to end to view.) This irreverent scene depicts the Founding Fathers paying homage at the birth of the Bill of Rights (in a manger). The Bill of Rights was adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, making this display seasonally suitable to balance December devotionals.

OBTAINING AN FFRF DISPLAY

If you're interested in ensuring there is "room at the inn" for the nonreligious point of view in a local governmental public forum, FFRF will be happy to provide you with a banner or outdoor display. It's helpful to hear from you as soon as possible, so that we can ship items to you in a timely fashion.

We have limited supplies of banners, which will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. We have a fair number of our impressive outdoor "Bill of Rights nativity" metal cut-outs in stock (which is built to last and expensive to ship). Although we can provide some tips on how to post and secure outdoor displays, we rely on you as the local activist to do the legwork. Ideally, you will be making a commitment to retain the display throughout the year and repost annually, as appropriate.

We prefer to ship once you have your permit or a bona fide application. FFRF's legal department unfortunately does not have the time to personally assist every interested member in applying for a permit, but we are pleased to provide backup support, if you run into obstruction, or if you're unsure whether there is a bonafide public forum giving you the right to post your own display, etc.

A national conservative Christian movement seeks to put a Christian nativity display in every state capitol. If you live in a capital city where this is happening and you'd like to help balance or protest such displays, we can provide special assistance.

HELP PROTEST DECEMBER VIOLATIONS

Not every nativity scene or menorah displayed on governmental property is part of a public forum. An unfortunate U.S. Supreme Court decision permits governmental bodies to host some religious displays, on a messy, fact-dependent basis. Please check our FAQ, Religious Holiday Displays on Public Property, for a discussion on whether a religious holiday display violates the First Amendment. If you encounter such displays, please report the violation via FFRF's online form. Photographs, descriptions of any other displays in the area, signs, or disclaimers, and other pertinent information helps FFRF act more speedily on your behalf.

RESURRECTION FUND TO COMBAT VANDALISM

Another way to help is to donate to FFRF's legal fund, or to pledge to donate each time an FFRF Winter Solstice display is vandalized or stolen (unfortunately a frequent occurrence). Your donation will be used to help replace signs and discourage tampering. Here's how to help.

If interested in being sent one of FFRF's Winter Solstice "'equal time displays," please contact Legal Assistant Whitney Steffen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone her 9-5 Central weekdays at 608/230-8451.

With thanks for your support of the separation between state and religion.

Winter Solstice (4 foot x 8 foot) with sewn-on rope for easy handling. Some are two-sided.

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Bill of Rights "nativities" (4 foot x 8 foot)

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Bill of Rights Explanation Sign. Attaches to Bill of Rights 'Nativity' - screws in, and/or permanently attaches with foam masking tape. Easy to do. (12'' x 22'')

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