The Freedom From Religion Foundation is placing a “Bill of Rights nativity” today in the Florida State Capitol proclaiming the Winter Solstice as the “true reason for the season” to counter a nativity scene placed for the first time.
The national state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), is placing a two-sided banner in the Florida Capitol on behalf of its 934 Florida members. The banner depicts a light-hearted nativity scene parody in which Ben Franklin, the Statue of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison on bended knee, gaze adoringly at a copy of the Bill of Rights in a crib.
The FFRF banner honors Dec. 15, the 222nd anniversary of adoption of the Bill of Rights, and Dec. 21, the shortest, darkest day of the year — the Winter Solstice — a natural holiday celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere. Because the day heralds the rebirth of the Sun, it’s traditionally sparked festivals of light, gift-exchanges, feasts and symbols of enduring life, such as evergreens, noted FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
“We don’t mind sharing the season with Christians, but we don’t like this pretense that it’s all about the birth of a Christian god,” she said.
“We’d vastly prefer to keep religion — and irreligion — out of the seat of state government. The Capitol ought be above the fray of religious divisiveness. But if public officials unwisely decide to permit religious public forums, then there must be ‘room at the inn’ for nonbelievers,” Gaylor explained.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation banner reads:
“At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government.”
The banner is identical to one that has just been placed in Daley Plaza by FFRF and its Chicago area chapter, to counter religious symbols there.
FFRF has also placed a plain-spoken sign of dissent from religion in both the Wisconsin State Capitol and the Illinois State Capitol, likewise in response to religious displays there: “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 wish to thank Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel for fast work in obtaining the banner, and area Tallahassee members Gary Whittenberger and Warren Brackmann for their help in ensuring freethinkers will be represented at the Capitol.