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Freethinkers begin to put up display

This article was published December 16, 2009 at 5:34 p.m.

FILE — Mark Love of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers works Wednesday, December 16, 2009 to set up a winter solstice display on the grounds of the state Capitol. A federal judge ruled that the secretary of state's office must let the group set up their display.

The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers began setting up its winter solstice box on the grounds of the state Capitol on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled that the secretary of state's office must allow the group to put up its display.

The Freethinkers’ wooden box display is eight feet tall and four feet wide. One side depicts the history of winter solstice celebrations, a second side provides background about the society and its ideals, the third side is filled with covers of books about atheism and science, and the final side covers some facts about the universe and the scientific method.

The winter solstice, which marks the shortest day of the year, is Dec. 21.

This year was the second time the society, which was backed in its lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, had applied to have a display at the Capitol. Its 2008 application also was denied. This year, the group submitted its formal request Oct. 16. The secretary of state’s office denied the request in a Nov. 4 letter, citing a state law allowing Capitol police to maintain “proper order and decorum.”

The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers was incorporated in 1996 and claims a membership of about 100 people who are “atheists, agnostics, deists and rationalists,” according to Mark Love, the group's registrar. Membership is open to anyone who is “atheist friendly” and won’t proselytize, he said.


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steviepee says... December 16, 2009 at 5:45 p.m.

Winter solstice is an excellent time to fast. Thank you freethinkers for your display!

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quiet4us2 says... December 16, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.

freethinkers you still have time to repent. God will forgive you. Don't let a great opportunity pass you by. Get down on your knee's and ask God to forgive you of your sins. The main sin here is you don't believe. But I think deep down inside your heart you do. So just ask. HE will forgive you I promise.

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rachelbowzer_yahoo_com says... December 16, 2009 at 11:39 p.m.

this is Rachel,not James,FYI.I support the freedom to do this,of course. I HAD hoped for something more in line with the Solstice as I celebrate it,but oh well. The science of Solstice is clear to all,and what it is seen to represent by me,and many others,a balance of light and dark, before the long slow climb into Summer, is as old as mankind.How you interpret that is up to you,I feel.

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Talisen says... December 17, 2009 at 1:28 a.m.

Let us not forget that this story is about the minority having the same rights as the majority. In this case we are talking about religious beliefs or the lack of maybe I've not read that the Free Thinkers actually believe.
Let us not forget what was said by a very wise man about 2,000 years ago, Judge not for the way you judge a person so will you be judged. I wish everyone a Happy Solstice and Goddess Bless.

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chefandre says... December 17, 2009 at 8:12 a.m.

The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers' Winter Solstice display box looks like an outhouse decorated with Christmas lights.

Deborah Poirot

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turfclan says... December 17, 2009 at 1:28 p.m.

Thats it? This ugly box with some platitudes on it about the winter solstcie and aetheim? Who cares...let them have their day in the sun and get over it.

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WebChris says... December 19, 2009 at 3:53 a.m.

This display has a description of paganistic rights and rituals, gods and godesses and how to build an atmosphere for pagan activities... hmmmm . Wouldn't such a display appear at all anti-atheist to even mention other religions and other gods in a positive light? From my standpoint, and I've only saw a web site detail of it, this "Winter Solstice" display would be very confusing to the "fish" this group is trying to catch! I'm certain these people don't even practice the rituals themselves. - very counterproductive and wasteful.

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HidyAphrodite says... December 19, 2009 at 6:22 a.m.

All you Bible thumping control freaks need to get on with your lives and quit worrying your pretty little heads off about this display! What in the heck do you think this is going to cause? If it does happen to pull in some "fishes" away from YOUR brand of Christianity then, well, they weren't really on the same page as you to begin with now were they? And you know what? That is O-K-A-Y! What I believe and how I go about doing it is my business; what you believe and how you celebrate your beliefs is certainly your business; and that is the right of each and every one of us and WHAT OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED UPON. For example -- I find fire and brimstone pulpit screeching horrific to the senses and in every way a big turn-off but I'm not on a crusade to ban such gibberish because I am personally offended by such antics, now am I? No, I just don't go to a place of worship that partakes of such preaching scare tactics and my suggestion to those who find the Winter Solstice display offensive to just simply avoid it. Now, isn't that a simple resolution? While I am certainly not an athiest I am very much a free thinker and darned proud of it! And to be perfectly honest, a religious manger display is far more inappropriate on State property given the "separation of church and state"... The Winter Solstice is a matter of science.

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manta says... December 19, 2009 at 10:58 a.m.

I think both displays have taken attention away from our celebrations.
I would prefer the Game and Fish put a giant Arkansas Alligator in both these displays. Then let believers from both schools of though, throw caution to the wind, and move through the exhibit of their choice and prove their faith.
Can't wait till next year, the Capitol grounds are going to resemble the cardboard races at Heber Springs.

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davmab says... December 21, 2009 at 5:21 p.m.

Looks like your website is under attack from supernatural forces...

you really need to add comment moderation to your blasphemy...

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