The Freedom From Religion Foundation's Winter Solstice display has returned to the Illinois Capitol building for the eighth year in a row.
The exhibit was installed by FFRF member Kathryn Koldehoff in the hub of the Illinois state government in Springfield on Dec. 5 and will be up till the end of the month.
FFRF is the largest national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), with almost 25,000 members all over the country and more than 700 members and a Chicago chapter in the state of Illinois. The organization works to protect the constitutional separation between religion and government. Back in 2008, Illinois members asked FFRF to erect an equal-time display in protest against a decision to permit a religious group to plant a nativity scene in the Capitol during the holiday season.
"We don't think religion—or irreligion—belongs in state capitols," noted Dan Barker, FFRF co-president and author of the recent book, "Life-Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning." "But if a state is going to permit a nativity display and create a public forum, then we want to be sure that the views of the 23 percent of the U.S. population that is not religious are also represented."
The pretty green and red sign contains a secular message, composed by the late Anne Nicol Gaylor, FFRF's principal founder:
"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."
"This sign is a reminder of the real reason for the season, the Winter Solstice," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, "which is the shortest and darkest day of the year and takes place on Dec. 21 this year. The natural holiday heralds the rebirth of the sun and the natural new year, and has been celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere with festivals of light, evergreens, feasts and gift exchanges."
An engraved sign with the same wording has been erected by the Foundation for 21 Decembers running at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, where FFRF is headquartered.