Away with the manger — in with the Solstice!

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A Freedom From Religion Foundation banner now counters an annual life-sized Christian nativity scene placed by a Catholic Church in a public park in Boca Raton, Fla. 

FFRF’s banner reads: 

“At this Season of the Winter Solstice LET REASON PREVAIL. 

There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds.”

With the park zoned as a free speech area, FFRF Lifetime Member Preston Smith worked with the city of Boca Raton for several months to gain approval for “equal time” displays. 

To test the parameters of the public forum for religious views during the holiday season, Smith also placed a 300-pound red wooden pentagram with an image of Baphomet as the centerpiece. Smith says he is “calling out Christian hypocrisy and theistic bias in taxpayer-funded public arenas while advocating for the separation of church and state.” 

FFRF contributed the banner to further its mission.

“We do not think governmental property should be used to promote religion — or irreligion,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “But if governmental bodies create public forums for religion, there has to be ‘room at the inn’ for dissenting or minority religious views as well.” 

Gaylor adds that the real reason for the season is a natural event — the Winter Solstice — falling on Dec. 21 this year, the shortest, darkest day of the year. 

“We nonbelievers are quite willing to share this time of year with believers, but we don’t like the pretense that it is the birthday of Jesus. It is the birthday of the Unconquered Sun, heralding the symbolic rebirth of the Sun, lengthening of days and natural New Year,” she says. “For millennia, our ancestors in the Northern Hemisphere have greeted this seasonal event with festivals of light, gift exchanges and seasonal gatherings. We’ve been celebrating the Winter Solstice long before Christians crashed the party.” 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national state/church watchdog representing nearly 25,000 atheists and agnostics around the country, including more than 1,200 in Florida and a chapter in the state, the Central Florida Freethought Community.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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