(MADISON, WIS.) The Freedom From Religion Foundation's gilt "Winter Solstice" sign is back in the first-floor rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol for the month of December.
Composed by the group's founder, Anne Nicol Gaylor, the sign 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."
The back of the sign carries the message: "State/Church: Keep Them Separate" and a little taped-on caveat, advising, "Thou shalt not steal."
This is the ninth year the national freethought association's sign has been placed in the Capitol. 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.
"The nonreligious are 14% of the U.S. population," according to Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. "If religious activities are going to take place in the Capitol, then there should be representation of the views of Wisconsin's nonreligious citizens as well.
"Our sign reminds citizens of the real reason for the season, the impending Winter Solstice (Dec. 21), the shortest and darkest day of the year, which signals the return of the sun. The Winter Solstice has been celebrated for a millennia in the Northern Hemisphere by festivals of light, decorations of evergreens, gift exchanges, parties and feasts.
"Freethinkers don't mind sharing the season with Christians, but we think the natural origins of many of the customs of this time of year should be acknowledged."