The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s nontheistic Winter Solstice sign returned to the Washington capitol this year.
The sign went up this week thanks to Darrell Barker, president of FFRF's chapter "Unfettered Freethinkers of South Sound" and 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 and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
The Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, took place this year on Friday, 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.
On behalf of its more than 1,200 members in the state of Washington, the national church/state watchdog organization installed the Winter Solstice sign in front of the Capitol building in Olympia just a few days ago.
"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."
The FFRF banner has been erected the last few years to counter a large nativity display that has appeared in recent times at the Capitol. Barker has received a permit to keep the display up until Dec. 28.
In 2008, FFRF installed its sign inside the Capitol building to counter a life-sized nativity exhibit allowed for a second year within 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.
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. That's why the FFRF banner is also on the scene.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 32,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 1,200 members and a chapter in Washington. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.