Saturday, December 6, 2008

Decking the Halls

Capitol Holiday Kids Tree

Here in Washington State everybody likes to participate in decorating this time of year. At the capitol in Olympia tonight they celebrated lighting the Holiday Kids Tree. The tree, sponsored by the Association of Washington Business, is related to a charity drive for needy families and has been a tradition for 18 years. A few years ago a Jewish group added a Hanukkah menorah to the decorations. Following that, a local real estate agent sued when his request to display a Nativity scene was denied. He won his case and the cedar creche with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus was installed. (Hey, where are the shepherds and the wise men and the donkey?) This year the Freedom From Religion Foundation contributed a sign to the holiday decor. The sign reads:

At this season of
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.

The sign caused considerable comment including from Bill O'Reilly of Fox News who said that "Washington State is ground zero for just about every nutty secular cause on earth." Yeah! I have never been so proud to be a Washingtonian! O'Reilly posted Governor Gregoire's phone number on TV and encouraged people to call her and complain and many have but our governor has defended the atheists' right to display their sign in the Capitol. Then, this morning the sign was stolen only to turn up later at a country radio station in Seattle. The atheists sign is back now, secured and has a slight addition, "Thou shalt not steal."

All the hub bub has generated a new slew of applicants wanting to put their own holiday symbol in the capitol rotunda. Among other applicants, carpenter Jim Buenzli has applied for permission to add a Festivus pole which he plans to install next week.

My only complaint about the atheists sign is that it is not very festive. Yet, I confess I'm not sure how a person would express atheism in a visual metaphor bright and festive enough to cheer us Washingtonians through our dark winter days.

George Washington Bust Flanked by Atheist Sign and Nativity Scene

1 comment:

  1. I won't be a Washingtonian until next year but your post makes me look forward to it even more.