The Freedom From Religion Foundation is planting the freethought flag again in the legislative heart of the Hawkeye State.
The centerpiece of its seasonal display in the Iowa Capitol is a whimsical Bill of Rights “Nativity.” The metal cutout depicts three Founders along with the Statue of Liberty gazing in adoration at a “baby” Bill of Rights. A sign beside the tongue-in-cheek Nativity reads: “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, join us in honoring the Bill of Rights, adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, which reminds us there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent.” It ends with: “Keep religion and government separate!”
The exhibit made its debut three years ago in response to a Nativity scene that went up that year for the first time in the Capitol. Among those who spoke at the Christian Nativity inaugural was then-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who lent an official air to the proceedings. Two years ago, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds attended the opening ceremony of the Thomas More Society-installed Nativity for its repeat run, as did a state representative.
Such blatant religious pandering on the part of public officials in a governmental space has evoked a strong response from Iowa’s secular community.
“If you visit the Iowa state Capitol starting tomorrow, you will see a Christmas tree smack dab in the middle of the rotunda,” Hemant Mehta writes on his Friendly Atheist blog about the scene this year. “But surrounding it, since there’s an open forum available to anyone who wants to take advantage of it, will be a record seven displays from atheist groups.”
FFRF is proud to be part of that assemblage, which also includes Secular Students at Iowa, American Atheists, and Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers.
“We’re delighted to be part of a strong secular movement in Iowa that’s flexing its muscles,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “This shows that freethought is a rooted movement that has a strong base in the Midwest.”
FFRF would like to thank member Paul Novak (pictured above), an FFRF state representative, for putting up the exhibit.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national state/church watchdog organization that has over 30,000 members, including more than 200 in Iowa.