The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual Winter Solstice exhibit is celebrating its (almost unbroken) silver jubilee at the Wisconsin Capitol.
The secular display is back in the state/church watchdog’s hometown legislative building for a breathtaking 25th time after a pandemic-forced hiatus last year. A gilt sign in the Madison-located Statehouse features FFRF’s traditional message from its principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor. It was created as an equal-time challenge to combat religious dogmatism at the heart of state government and reads:
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.
A major addition to the exhibit in the rotunda for more than half a decade now is FFRF’s whimsical Bill of Rights “nativity.” The irreverent cutout by artist Jacob Fortin depicts Founders Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington gazing in adoration at a “baby” Bill of Rights while the Statue of Liberty looks on.
A sign beside this tongue-in-cheek depiction reads:
“At this Season of the Winter Solstice, join us in honoring the Bill of Rights, adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, which reminds us that there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate!”
Both exhibits are permitted to be up until the end of December to counter various religious displays and activities in the Capitol.
Occurring on 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.
“We don’t mind sharing the Winter Solstice season with believers,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “But we don’t like the notion that it’s about the birth of a Christian savior. This seasonal commemoration is observed by people of all faiths and of no faith at all.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., has approximately 35,000 nonreligious members and several chapters all over the country, including over 1,500 members and a chapter in Wisconsin. Photo by Chris Line. Thanks to Legal Assistant Stephanie Dyer, FFRF Director of Operations Lisa Strand and Freethought Today Editor PJ Slinger, who delivered the displays, along with FFRF Attorney Chris Line (photographer).