Op Ed: Signs against Faith

I am becoming more and more disturbed by the public disturbance at the Holiday Display in the State Capital in Olympia, Washington. Apparently an athiest group used the rules regarding the display to insert its own sign, which states, "At this season of the Winter Solstice, may 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."

"Dan Barker, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., talks Monday about the sign his organization helped place near a Christian nativity scene at the Capitol in Olympia during the holiday season. The sign promotes the observance of the winter solstice and is critical of religious beliefs." photo / associated press / photo caption / "atheist sign joins nativity scene, tree at capital" seattle post-intelligencer 1 december 2008

We may call it Christmas today - and many observe the holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ - but a winter solstice celebration has existed in every corner of the globe since we began to measure the shortest day of our year. To argue that the holiday doesn't reflect 20,000+ years in our quest to discover the sacred and divine (or 5000+ years if you're a fundamentalist follower of the Christian Bible), to insist that this holiday can only be the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, is absurd.

But equally absurd, I think, is the participation in a religious display by a group that argues for "Freedom from Religion." None of the other displays there stand to criticize another faith. They stand there to represent their interpretation and celebration of the holiday, the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. More importantly, they stand there in mute testimony that this day is somehow sacred and divine. They stand there together. And this one sign, put up by an organization that (I cannot believe) does not represent the full range of atheism, exists not to celebrate but to divide and criticize the faith of others.

We wouldn't tolerate such a sign by any of the organized religions against another or against atheists. This sign should be removed.