FFRF’s holiday greetings displayed in Puerto Rico


The Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico (Secular Humanists of Puerto Rico) held a protest on the steps of the Judicial Center of San Juan to object to the common government practice of displaying nativity scenes inside courthouses in Puerto Rico.

As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is subject to the U.S. Constitution, including the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which separates religion from government. But in a place where, according to the Pew Research Center, 89% of people identify as Catholic or Protestant, and 99% profess belief in a god, the separation of church and state can be hard to enforce.

HuSe formally asked to display a secular message beside nativity scenes in all of Puerto Rico’s courthouses. When they did not receive a response, 15 HuSe members took their sign to the Judicial Center of San Juan. The group reportedly wasn’t allowed to go higher than the first steps of the building, despite past demonstrations being allowed in the courthouse lobby. The Dec. 23 protest garnered press coverage across Puerto Rico.

The sign contained a shortened version of FFRF’s traditional holiday greeting in Spanish: “En esta época en que celebramos el Solsticio de Invierno deseamos que en nuestro pueblo reine primero la razón. No existen dioses, ni demonios, ni ángeles, como tampoco un cielo, ni un infierno. Solamente existe nuestro bello mundo natural.”

The English version, coined by FFRF principal founder Anne Gaylor, 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.”

The Winter Solstice, which occurred Dec. 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, marks the shortest, darkest day of the year, signaling the rebirth of the sun and the natural new year. It’s been celebrated for millennia with festivals of light, feasts, gift exchanges and the display of evergreens, which symbolize enduring life.

FFRF has sent several letters over the years objecting to state/church violations in Puerto Rico. Co-President Dan Barker, who is fluent in Spanish, often assists with translations. He praised the humanist group and Dr. Victor M. Rivera-Jimenez for their activism.

FFRF is a national state/church watchdog with more than 21,500 members nationwide, including members in Puerto Rico.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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