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story.lead_photo.caption A nativity scene sits on the lawn south of the state Capitol Monday afternoon. A judge ruled Monday that the secretary of state’s office must let a group that includes atheists put a winter solstice display on the Capitol grounds. The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers had sought to put its display up alongside the Christmas display, but had its request denied. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

An atheist group’s display marking the winter solstice will join the traditional Nativity scene on the state Capitol grounds as a result of a ruling by a federal judge Monday.

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Front Section, Pages 1 on 12/15/2009

Print Headline: Ruling allows for atheist display

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  • Fourme2know
    December 15, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.

    This country was founded on the basis of Freedom of Religion, not the freedom of if "you can, I can". This country is founded on GOD,if someone doesn't believe in Him, that is their choice, but they do not have the right to force their beliefs on us. I bet they celebrate Christmas, though, don't they??? And yet they don't believe??? Sounds like a double standard to me! I think it's time for us to stand up for God, and quit letting these other so-called unbelievers, push us to do the things that we KNOW are not right!!!!

  • Poorboy
    December 15, 2009 at 7:06 a.m.

    Christmas is a holiday adopted by Christians but started by other societies years earlier to celebrate the winter solstice. Not even a Christian claims that Christ was actually born on Christmas day. If Christians are allowed to place religious figures on public property, then non-religious groups have that same right based on freedom of speech.

  • HB4
    December 15, 2009 at 7:06 a.m.

    Judge Wright was right...

  • SpecialEd
    December 15, 2009 at 8:19 a.m.

    I am a staunch Born Again Christian and still believe that the humanist display has a right to be at the Capitol if they are going to allow the Nativity scene. I may not like it, yet in a free society the Constitution must be upheld. We don't want our views/voice as followers of Jesus to be censored, so we must not take a hypocritical stand against those who think differently.

    Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
    free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of
    the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of

  • Hangin_Judge
    December 15, 2009 at 8:31 a.m.

    I could really care less what somebody puts on the lawn of the Arkansas State Capitol. What matters is what you truely believe, how you treat people, & where you plan to spend eternity. All I know is that I will be standing at the pearly gates when I die & all these atheist will be cooking in the deep fryer of hell for what they don't beleive. In the end, they will get their just deserts.

  • HisAngel
    December 15, 2009 at 9:13 a.m.

    At first, I got really mad about this, but as I read and prayed, I realized that each man has a right to their own belief, even if it collides with mine. I am sorry for those who can not know of Christ and I will pray for each and for their salvation. Have an open mind and know that Our Lord is HERE! Make joyful noise and praise His name, everyday and not just at Christmas!
    Remember that this is only the world full of worldly things, but we who are Christians are citizens of Heaven, destined to go home one day!
    May God forgive those who are blind and do not yet see. God, grant them grace just as You have for me.

  • Skeptic001
    December 15, 2009 at 1:09 p.m.

    Forme2Know says "This country is founded on GOD...."
    You clearly have not read the constitution of this country, there is no mention of God in the constitution, but it does spell out the separation of Church and State. If that is not enough for you, look at the very first treaty we signed with after becoming an independent country, the Treaty of Tripoli, it clearly states that this country was NOT founded on the Christian religion. It was ratified unanimously by congress and signed by the President.

    Yes, you have the right to practice your religion, that does not mean you have the right to block others from displaying their beliefs even if they believe something totally different. SO you either believe in freedom or you don't...that means freedom for all regardless of they personal beliefs.

  • HidyAphrodite
    December 15, 2009 at 1:16 p.m.

    How each of us celebrates Christmas is an individual thing and not in some man made display. In these times it has become little more than a gift giving event anyway. I'll be just as interested to see the display celebrating the winter solstice, perhaps even more so, and look forward to it's inclusion. It is absurd to talk about freedoms but yet not be tolerant of other's rights to their freedom of expression. The winter solstice was celebrated long before there was Christianity. While I believe there is a higher power of some sort and that it is loosely and collectively referred to as "God", who among us REALLY knows just what this power is? It is ALL conjecture and until we die and go to wherever it is that we end up we can only guess as to what it is all about and latch onto whatever belief system works best for each of us in the here and now ... and that is ok. One belief system is not better than another ... just different. To be intolerant of beliefs different from one's own but still refer to oneself as a Christian is very much hypocritical. As I understand it, Jesus was all about tolerance and acceptance.

  • Gotrootdude
    December 15, 2009 at 1:32 p.m.

    Just a few points I'd like to make. I generally come off rude, so beware that if I do such it is not my intention. I also feel you should have a right to your beliefs until your rights interfere with the rights of others.

    1. The constitution says the government shall make "no law respecting" religion but to allow free exercise of religion. Take note that the government can't make a law respecting religion. Although this part of the constitution has been violated again and again, it clearly means your religion should not be respected "WITH or BY LAW".

    2. You can not push a NON-belief. You can only push a belief. If you feel atheists are pushing their belief then what belief are they pushing? The belief that your belief may not be true? Every religion out there has beliefs, they can't all be right and yours is no different in respect. If you think that your belief is the only possible truth then please get over your offensive arrogance and closed mindedness.
    3. Atheists do not believe in heaven or hell. We view such threats and promises of rewards as tools of brainwashing into accepting beliefs without evidence. We ask that religious people quit using those tactics with atheists.
    You do not add validity to your belief with threats; you only create evidence that you require threats in order to brainwash others.

    4. Telling people you're "sorry" for them being different is extremely condescending. Many slave owners may have told a slave they were "sorry" the slave was born black.
    I ask that you don't tell me that you're sorry that I don't believe your belief and I'll try not to go around saying I'm sorry for you because you were brainwashed into the belief.

  • Linsey
    December 15, 2009 at 4:21 p.m.

    I stumbled upon this article, and being Agnostic, I was even more inclined to read it and I must say I was suprised by the comments that have been left. It is nice to see that the majority of the comments include definite facts...such as reference to what our constitution actually states...the reference to the peace treaty as also mentioned above...etc.

    I am, and have always been a big supporter of the seperation of church and state AND a big supporter of believing however you choose to believe. The typical majority of comments on articles such as these however tend to sadly be comments such as the one left by "Fourme2know".

    It amazes me that some people can be so passionate about their religous beliefs but fail to be passionate enough about our country to actually know that facts. That we are NOT a country that was founded on religion or God. And I embrace (as do so many others above seem to) any argument from anyone who chooses to argue that fact with me.

    I've been reminded of a common quote a time or two in my life regarding my "open-mindedness".

    "Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out."

    And to this I reply...

    "Don't be so closed-minded that you refuse to let fact/truth/and knowledge in..."