Freethought "Winter Solstice" Sign Stolen from Wisconsin Capitol

Thou Shalt Steal?

$500 Reward Offered to Catch Religious Thief

The Freedom From Religion Foundation's traditional "untraditional" Winter Solstice sign, appearing yearly at the Wisconsin State Capitol since 1996, was apparently stolen sometime between Monday and Tuesday afternoons.

(See photo of the sign, attached below.)

The Foundation annually erects a gilt sign during the month of December reading:

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.

Because religionists were continually turning the Foundation's sign to face the wall, this year the Foundation added engraved wording to the back of the sign reading: "State/Church: Keep Them Separate. - Freedom From Religion Foundation."

A thief or thieves removed the two engraved inserts in the sign, which was located in the first-floor rotunda. The plaques were valued at several hundred dollars. A menorah with a religious sign is also erected annually along with the huge State Christmas Tree, which this year includes several religious ornaments.

"Given the heightened security at the Capitol, we are at a loss to explain this security lapse," said Foundation president Anne Gaylor.

The Foundation erected the sign in response to various religious displays and events at the State Capitol. In the 1990s it originally had erected a red-white-and-blue banner reading "State/Church: Keep Them Separate." Gov. Tommy Thompson ordered the Foundation message ripped down in 1995, although the Foundation had a legal permit to post it. His office subsequently issued guidelines permitting smaller signs to be erected.

The Foundation offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief or thieves. No information has been forthcoming.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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