The Drudge Report linked an article that explained the Illinois State Capitol building had a Christmas display including a Christmas tree, a nativity, and a sign posted by the foundation “Freedom From Religion,” which promotes atheism.
It seems when the Illinois Capitol decided to allow the nativity scene, that also opened the door for other groups to put their “messages” in there as well. The group “Freedom From Religion” applied for a permit last year to put a sign stating their beliefs in the Capitol display in “response to the state’s decision to put up the nativity.” A perfectly legal thing to do, and in my opinion, completely understandable. But…
The sign, which was placed in front of the Christmas tree read:
“At the time 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 just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” (emphasis mine)
Wow. Hardens hearts and enslaves minds? Evidently the nativity really touched a nerve… The same foundation has put the same message in other State Capitol buildings across the country.
If have any of these details incorrect, I apologize. You can read the article I found by clicking here.
Anyway, the obvious departure in that last phrase from merely sharing their belief, to attacking other beliefs, prompted William J. Kelly, referred to by the local CBS Channel 2 as “conservative activist and Illinois comptroller candidate,” to march in and turn the sign face down. He was escorted away by the State Capitol police immediately.
Kelly said he regarded the sign as “hate speech.”
Surprisingly to me, Dan Barker, the Freedom From Religion foundation co-founder actually admitted Kelly had a legit beef. He said to Channel 2:
“He’s kind of right, because the last couple of sentences do criticize religion, and of course, the beginning is a celebration of the winter solstice. But that kind of speech is protected as well – speech that is critical and speech that is supportive.”
Now most people I think would say that this is an example of why you can’t allow a nativity scene in a public building. As soon as you open that door, you have to open the door to everyone who wants to put their message in there, and it will get out of hand.
But me, I’m actually for more freedom of speech not less. (And I’ve got a solution to this public problem I’ll share at a later date)
As a Christian, I don’t mind a different view, I just want the opportunity to share what I am convinced the truth is. And a nativity is a very passive message. In fact, it’s more of a tradition really, especially in the culture of America. The Supreme Court of the United States declared back in the late 1800’s we were a Christian nation. It’s part of our heritage. So much so, that I don’t think the nativity preaches the message nearly as a well as… well…
If those very same Capitol displays will even allow for speech “that is critical” of other faiths and/or world views… If they allow for signs explaining a world view and even attacking religion…
Then why stop with something as passive as a nativity?
Oh I’m not suggesting posting a bunch of signs that specifically go after atheists. I personally do not believe that treating people’s basic beliefs as evil or stupid (ie… using the same tone in the “Freedom From Religion” sign) wins anyone over. I think those things just irritate the people who are being attacked and make the divisions deeper.
I’m all for showing respect. And I’m all for respectfully promoting the Gospel, explaining the Biblical message, and putting some plaques around the nativity explaining the story of Christ. Hey, it would be educational!
I mean, c’mon, fire both barrels. Why not? If the nativity scene itself is so offensive that the Freedom From Religion Foundation believes it is “mocking humanity” and “enslaves minds,” then it seems to me it’s too late to worry about offending anyone. They are already offended.
Might as well explain the whole message, now.