The Freedom From Religion Foundation has once again installed its secular holiday display at an Illinois courthouse.
A Bill of Rights “Nativity” display has been set up by FFRF Member Will Meyer (pictured above) next to a Christian Nativity scene on the grounds of the Grundy County Courthouse and will be available for public viewing through the new year. This exhibit has gone up annually during the Solstice season since 2015 when the Grundy County sheriff, who manages the courthouse grounds, adopted a formal policy allowing individuals and groups to place displays on an equal basis.
The irreverent cutout by artist Jacob Fortin depicts Founders Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington gazing adoringly at a “baby” Bill of Rights in a manger while the Statue of Liberty looks on. A sign beside the tongue-in-cheek Nativity states:
“Happy Winter Solstice. At this Season of the Winter Solstice, we honor reason and the Bill of Rights (adopted Dec. 15, 1791).” At the bottom, it reads: “Keep State & Church Separate.”
Occurring this year on Monday, Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice marks the shortest, darkest day of the year, heralding the symbolic rebirth of the sun. It has been celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere with festivals of light, evergreens, gift exchanges and seasonal gatherings. The Bill of Rights — the document on which our freedoms are based — also came into being during this season.
“We’d much prefer that government property, judicial or otherwise, be free from religion — and irreligion,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “But if a devotional Nativity display is allowed, there must be ‘room at the inn’ for all points of view, including irreverence and freethought.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with over 33,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including more than 1,000 members and a Chicago chapter in the state of Illinois. The organization works to protect the constitutional separation between religion and government.