The Madison, Wis., group Freedom From Religion Foundation has brought in a seasonal display for the first-floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol, days after the Florida Prayer Network put up a privately funded nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.
The foundation, a non-profit that advocates for non-theists and promotes the separation of church and state, proclaimed its "Bill of Rights nativity" banner as a counter to the nativity scene.
"We don’t mind sharing the season with Christians, but we don’t like this pretense that it’s all about the birth of a Christian god," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a release. "We’d vastly prefer to keep religion --- and irreligion --- out of the seat of state government. The Capitol ought be above the fray of religious divisiveness. But if public officials unwisely decide to permit religious public forums, then there must be ‘room at the inn’ for nonbelievers."
The foundation's banner states: "At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun --- the TRUE reason for the season." On Tuesday last week, the Florida Prayer Network put up the first nativity display in modern history in the Capitol.
Pam Olsen, president of the Florida Prayer Network, said the display does not reflect a state-sponsored religion. She also noted that a Jewish menorah is displayed nearby. Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, has said no religious symbols, including a menorah, should be displayed in government buildings.