The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Winter Solstice sign is back in the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
County Executive Chris Abele graced the installation ceremony on Monday, Dec. 3. FFRF put up the display with the help of member Ted Shellhamer.
FFRF has placed the message in the courthouse alongside devotional displays to emphasize that nonreligion must be given space alongside religion in public forums. The Winter Solstice sign was originally put in the courthouse to counteract an inappropriate nativity scene plunked there in 2009. A Pew survey a few years ago revealed that one in five Milwaukee County residents is nonreligious, including one in three young persons.
“A public space in order to be truly public needs to be all-inclusive,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “People of no faith, an ever-growing share of the population, deserve to make our presence felt.”
The display contains the seasonal adage of FFRF’s principal founder, Anne Nicol Gaylor:
“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, occurring this year on Dec. 21, is 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, and, FFRF maintains, is the true “reason for the season.”
FFRF thanks Ted Shellhamer for his assistance and activism.
The national state/church watchdog, based in Madison, Wis., has approximately 32,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including almost 2,000 members and the Kenosha Racine Atheists & Freethinkers (KRAFt) chapter in Wisconsin.