FFRF display reappears at Washington Capitol

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is returning to the Washington state Capitol.

On behalf of its more than 1,000 members in the state of Washington, the nontheistic organization is again installing a Winter Solstice sign in front of the Capitol building in Olympia on Friday, Dec. 23, at 10 a.m. local time.

The Madison, Wis.-based national state/church watchdog has 25,000 members and chapters all over the country.

Thanks to FFRF State Representative Darrell Barker, the Winter Solstice banner is being erected to counter a large nativity display that has appeared in recent years outside the Capitol. Barker has applied for and received a permit to keep the display up until the end of the year.

“Our sign is a reminder of the real reason for the season, the Winter Solstice,” says Dan Barker, Foundation co-president and brother of Darrell. “Christians don’t own the month of December.”

In 2008, FFRF, at the request of a member in Shelton, Wash., sought a permit for its sign to counter a life-sized nativity exhibit allowed for a second year inside the Statehouse. Religious, and irreligious displays, do not belong at the seats of government in public-owned government buildings, FFRF maintains, but if religion is going to be allowed, there must be “room at the inn” for irreligion as well.

The engraved sign read: “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.”

Placement of the sign that year set off such a firestorm, when Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and others condemned its presence, that the governor ended public forums inside the Capitol. That was FFRF’s goal. However, the state is now permitting displays outside the Capitol, and a nativity scene has been placed there by a private group in a number of subsequent years.

The Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, took place this year on Wednesday, Dec. 21. This natural holiday signals the return of the sun and the new year, and has been celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere with festivals of light, evergreens, feasts and gift exchanges. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is more than happy to spread the word about the celebration.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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