The Freedom From Religion Foundation and its Metropolitan Chicago chapter have placed their secular holiday displays all over the Windy City area.
A colorful banner invoking the Founding Fathers has again been unfurled in Daley Plaza in the heart of Chicago (see photo above). It greets everyone with “Happy Winter Solstice” and pictures Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the Statue of Liberty gazing adoringly at a “baby” Bill of Rights. Sitting atop the banner stand is a large lighted Richard Dawkins-inspired “A” (for atheism or agnosticism) sign. This is the seventh year of the display, intended to counter a life-size Christian creche and a massive Jewish menorah placed at the location by private organizations since the 1980s.
FFRF has also erected a Bill of Rights Nativity cutout at Cook Memorial Park in Libertyville, the second year that a freethought exhibit has been displayed at this site. A sign next to the cutout reads, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, join us in honoring the Bill of Rights, adopted on December 15, 1791, which reminds us that there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate!” A life-size Christian creche and an 8-foot tall menorah have been placed in the park for several years.
The third spot to be graced by an FFRF display is the North School Park in Arlington Heights, its eighth year here (pictured below with FFRF member Kathi Wise). It also displays the Bill of Rights “Nativity.” A public forum area was created at the park by the Village Park District in 2012, after a Christian organization that wanted to put a Nativity scene in the park threatened a lawsuit. In addition to a Christian creche, a Jewish menorah has also been set up here. The block-long park traditionally features a popular secular light display.
The fourth FFRF exhibit, pictured below, is a new one. FFRF is making its debut at the Village Hall in Glenview with a display similar to the ones in Libertyville and Arlington Heights, also to counter Christian Nativities.
All four of the FFRF secular displays will be available for public viewing until Dec. 28.
“We’re delighted to make our freethinking presence felt in a landmark city of our country,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Religious displays can’t be allowed the monopolize the public space. As we always say, if a governmental body creates a public forum for religion, there must be room at the inn for dissenting viewpoints.”
FFRF Metropolitan Chicago chapter Director Tom Cara and other volunteers with the organization’s active Chicago chapter put up the display, and FFRF helped defray the costs. FFRF wishes to thank these members for ensuring that the views of the 26 percent of the population that is not religious are also heard in the month of December.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national freethought association dedicated to keeping state and church separate, with more than 30,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including over 1,000 members and its Metropolitan Chicago chapter in Illinois.