The Freedom From Religion Foundation is making certain for a second year in a row that a secular message is proudly on view in the heart of Cleveland.
The Northern Ohio Freethought Society, the local chapter of FFRF, has obtained a spot at the Cleveland Public Square for a FFRF Bill of Rights exhibit. The installation was set up on Dec. 1 not far away from a large Christian crèche scene that the Knights of Columbus has erected and will be on display through the month of December.
The mainstay of the exhibit is FFRF’s playful Bill of Rights “nativity.” The irreverent cutout by artist Jacob Fortin depicts Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington gazing adoringly at a “baby” Bill of Rights in a manger while the Statue of Liberty looks on. A sign beside the tongue-in-cheek nativity states: “At this season of the Winter Solstice... Join us in honoring the Bill of Rights, adopted on December 15, 1791, which reminds us there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate!”
Northern Ohio Freethought Society Director Marni Huebner-Tiborsky and other volunteers with the group helped put up the exhibit, and FFRF helped defray installation costs.
The display exemplifies the can-do spirit of members of the freethought organization, who often assemble such installations in their hometowns to counter religious tableaus on public land. FFRF helps out by providing the materials.
“If there’s going to be a forum for religion on government property, there must be room at the inn for the views of nonbelievers, too,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It’s important in this day and age, with secular folks making up an ever-larger portion of the population, that our message be visible throughout the country, including in the Buckeye State.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with 32,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including almost 800 members and the Northern Ohio chapter in Ohio. The organization works to protect the constitutional separation between religion and government.