The Freedom From Religion Foundation's freethought Winter Solstice banner has been stolen from the Franklin County courthouse lawn in Brookville, Ind. The banner is suspected to have been stolen sometime between the afternoons of Saturday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 6. The banner read:
At this season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds.
FFRF erected the banner on Nov. 29 as part of a celebration of the Winter Solstice, Bill of Rights, and freedom from religion in government. The banner accompanied FFRF's "Bill of Rights nativity," which remains on the courthouse lawn and celebrates the Dec. 15 "birth" of the Bill of Rights, which grants all U.S. citizens not only the freedom from religion in government but also the right to free speech.
"This theft sends a message to all religious minorities and the nonreligious that they are not welcome to share in the celebration of the season," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. "It's ironic that this act of censorship took place directly next to our Bill of Rights display, which protects the free speech rights of everyone, not just those in the majority."
"FFRF is no stranger to vandalism and theft," noted FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover. "We have been dealing with this sort of censorship for decades. Last winter one of our Winter Solstice signs was vandalized in Arlington Heights, Illinois and in March our 'In Reason We Trust' sign was stolen from the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda."
Grover added, "anti-speech reactions to atheist messages are common, but they just serve to emphasize a simple truth: a belief that cannot stand up to scrutiny is not a belief worth holding."
FFRF's Bill of Rights nativity will remain on the courthouse lawn until early January, thanks to Franklin County's decision to open a forum for religious speech on its lawn after FFRF sued the county over its endorsement of a traditional Christian nativity scene.
The Foundation is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief or thieves responsible and hopes to return its Winter Solstice banner to the courthouse lawn.