Vandalized FFRF Wash. Capitol sign resurrected


A Freedom From Religion Foundation sign at the Washington state Capitol is back up after being vandalized.

Darrell Barker, president of FFRF's chapter "Unfettered Freethinkers of South Sound," got a call on Wednesday, Dec. 20, from the Washington Capitol building in Olympia saying that FFRF's Winter Solstice sign was damaged. The banner sits not far from a nativity scene (partly visible in photo). On inspection, Barker saw that the ties had been cut and the frame twisted and toppled. The panel has now been restored and is again proudly spreading the freethought message.

The engraved sign 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, is taking place this year today, 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 1,300 members in the state of Washington, the nontheistic organization installed the Winter Solstice sign in front of the Capitol building in Olympia just a few days ago. The Madison, Wis.-based national state/church watchdog has 30,000 members and chapters all over the country.

"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.

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.

A way to help offset the effects of intolerance toward freethought is to pledge to donate each time an FFRF Winter Solstice display is vandalized or stolen. Such donations will be used to help replace signs and discourage tampering. Donate at and be sure to select Resurrection Fund in the drop-down. Read more about the reasons for the fund.

Barker has received a permit to keep the display up until the end of the year. FFRF will make sure that it indeed remains there for that period of time — regardless of how much nastiness comes its way.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

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