The Freedom From Religion Foundation has ensured a debut for freethought in the heart of Cleveland.
The Northern Ohio Freethought Society, the local chapter of FFRF, has obtained at spot at the Cleveland Public Square for the FFRF Bill of Rights exhibit. The installation was set up on Dec. 2 directly across from a large crèche scene that the Knights of Columbus has erected.
The mainstay of the display 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: "Happy Winter Solstice. At this Season of the Winter Solstice, we honor reason and the Bill of Rights (adopted Dec. 15, 1791)." At the bottom, it reads: "Keep State & Church 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.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the largest national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with roughly 30,000 members and 20 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.
"The presence of freethought deserves to be felt in our social fabric," says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. "With a significant and growing presence of the nonreligious, we're making ourselves heard."
The Bill of Rights "nativity" has also gone up in the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, where FFRF is headquartered. For more than 20 Decembers running, the Foundation has installed it there, along with an engraved sign saluting the Winter Solstice that proclaims there are no gods, only our natural world.