FFRF’s display at Illinois courthouse spotlights freethought

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation has installed a display honoring the Bill of Rights at an Illinois courthouse to balance a nativity scene there.

The whimsical exhibit was set up by FFRF Member Will Meyer at the Grundy County Courthouse, not too far from Chicago, on Nov. 26 and will be available for public viewing till the end of December.

The mainstay of the display is FFRF’s playful Bill of Rights “nativity.” The irreverent cut-out 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.”

The display exemplifies the take-charge spirit of members of the freethought organization, who often assemble such installations in their home towns 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 1,000 members and a Chicago chapter in the state of Illinois. The organization works to protect the constitutional separation between religion and government.

“We don’t think religion — or irreligion — belongs on governmental property,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “But if a state is going to permit a nativity display and create a public forum, then we want to be sure that the views of the substantial and growing population of nonbelievers are also represented. In this case, all citizens can embrace a display that honors the Bill of Rights.”

The Bill of Rights “nativity” will soon go 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.

With the help of its ever-vigilant membership, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is keeping the banner of reason flying high around the country.

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