FFRF wishes Texas Legislature a happy Bill of Rights Day

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In celebration of Bill of Rights Day — the 226th anniversary today of the adoption of the Bill of Rights — Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor has sent a personal greeting to all Texas legislators.

That greeting comes in the form of a cheerful card bearing an image of FFRF's whimsical Bill of Rights "nativity" depicting various Founding Fathers plus the Statue of Liberty gazing adoringly at a baby Bill of Rights in a manger. The card notes the Bill of Rights anniversary and has the salutation inside: "Happy Winter Solstice."

In 2015, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott censored a 4-by-5-foot aluminum cutout bearing the same image. FFRF resoundingly won round 1 of its federal lawsuit against Abbott in October, when a judge ruled in FFRF's favor after the governor ordered removal in December of 2015 of FFRF's duly permitted exhibit from the state Capitol, installed there to balance a Christian nativity display in the building. Abbott has appealed his loss to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We're mailing this Bill of Rights card to each Texas legislator in honor and acknowledgment of one of America's greatest accomplishments: the adoption of our Bill of Rights," Gaylor notes. "The First Amendment safeguards religious liberty, free speech, free assembly and the right to petition our government for redress of grievances. Significantly, the Establishment Clause protects our nation from becoming a theocracy."

A motto at the Freedom From Religion Foundation is "Protect the First Amendment — It Protects You."

FFRF didn't send a card to Abbott, since he's indicated he found the image "obscene." The organization's legal complaint details a "history of hostility directed against FFRF" by Abbott when he was the state attorney general. In December 2011, Abbott, on Fox News, told the group to keep out of Texas, stating: "Our message to the atheists is: 'Don't mess with Texas or our nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments.'" In October 2012, he attacked FFRF during a press conference: "We will not allow atheist groups from outside of the state of Texas to come into the state to use menacing and misleading intimidation tactics to try to bully schools to bow down at the altar of secular beliefs."

As FFRF likes to point out, the state/church watchdog does not think religion — or irreligion — belongs at the seat of government or on governmental property. But if the government creates a public forum in December for religion, it must also allow dissent from that religion.

The display was also erected to celebrate the Winter Solstice, what FFRF calls the "natural holiday" and "the real reason for the season." The Winter Solstice is the moment when the sun appears at its most extreme southernmost position from the equator, creating the year's longest night. The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, on Dec. 21 this year, is popularly known as "the first day of winter."

In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality, Gaylor adds.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit founded in 1978, has more than 30,000 nonreligious members, including 1,300-plus in Texas.

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.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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