The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual Winter Solstice exhibit at the Wisconsin Capitol has now been displayed there for more than 25 years.
The secular display is back in the state/church watchdog’s hometown legislative building for a 26th time. 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 over 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 there for a month 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.
“The Winter Solstice season is for everyone,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It 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 over 39,000 nonreligious members and several chapters all over the country, including more than 1,600 members and a chapter in Wisconsin. Photo by Chris Line. Thanks to Intake Legal Assistant Matt Langer, Legal Assistant Greta Martens and Events & Outreach Manager Sadie Pattinson, who delivered the displays, along with FFRF Attorney Chris Line (photographer).