Arkansas Solstice Display Denied

Last year, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers tried to erect a holiday display at the state Capitol building. They were denied because they weren’t very specific about the type of display they wanted to put up.

They made no such mistake this time around:

This year, the group submitted a detailed description along with a website, complete with pictures, showing exactly what they had in mind. Their request was, once again, denied.

They weren’t even given a reason.

Meanwhile, a Nativity scene currently resides at the Capitol building…

Tod Billings, the president of ASF, isn’t happy about this:

“It’s totally a joke,” Billings says. “That letter does not explain what is going on. If there was something offensive in it, they could have pointed that out. But we didn’t attack anybody. What other conclusion could be reached other than they are just summarily saying no and free speech is just a sham? That’s all there is to it.”

The ACLU is on the case, so we’ll see what happens.

It’s sad that this is going on… especially when we’re talking about the same state that brought us Will Phillips.

(Thanks to Emily for the link!)

  • PrimeNumbers

    Yet again, the free ride of religion. Yet again, the bigotry of elected officials who probably proclaim their own morals and religosity, but find it very hard to follow the rules (the law, the Constitution) when it doesn’t serve their own religious ends.

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    Arkansas is such a mixed bag. Will is from NW Arkansas, which seems to be the oasis in a state of crazy.

  • qwertyuiop

    If there was something offensive in it, they could have pointed that out.

    It’s not Christian.

    That’s what it boils down to.

  • chris

    “This display, as explained to us, does not fit in with our holiday decorations.” The displays typical have included lights, a Nativity scene maintained by an independent organization and Christmas trees.

    So…the “tone” of your decorations are christian, and if the ASF’s decorations are anything different then they will be denied.

    That is about as close to just coming out and saying “no free speech for non-christians” as you can get.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    We might be dealing with a similar problem in West Chester, PA. I will be writing an Examiner article on it as soon as I hear the final decision (which should be later today).
    -Staks

  • http://alessamendes.blogspot.com Alessa Mendes

    Very displeasing. The media needs to get involved. The reason why religious people always get what they want is because they make such a big stink and cry out “discrimination.” I’m not saying we need to sink to their level, but I think a lot of people are used to Skeptics just grin and bearing.

  • martin

    I love this quote from the article.

    “When asked what “holiday tone” meant, Naragon said, “You can look at the other decorations that we have on the grounds. That’s clearly what we’ve determined to be appropriate in the holiday tone that we are striving to create. This display, as explained to us, does not fit in with our holiday decorations.” The displays typical have included lights, a Nativity scene maintained by an independent organization and Christmas trees.”

    Yeah, so basicaly a display that is allowed has to be a typical CHRISTIAN DISPLAY…

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Don’t they even read their Bible and know that decorating trees like the pagan’s do is strictly outlawed. They’ll be on their way to hell before they know it.

  • http://limadean.wordpress.com Nadine

    I’m curious what their proposed display would’ve looked like – does anyone know?

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    After last year’s hub bub in WA, you think they would have gotten the picture. Don’t these people read the newspapers? It seems they’re doing it on purpose to get publicity.

  • Matto the Hun

    Don’t they even read their Bible and know that decorating trees like the pagan’s do is strictly outlawed. They’ll be on their way to hell before they know it.

    Nice point PrimeNumbers… surely there’s a passage that lets us stone them for this?

  • fembot

    I found this description of the display:

    The display looks like a miniature house. It is four-sided, four feet wide, four feet deep and eight feet tall. It is covered with a plywood roof. Each side has a different display. One side describes the history of winter solstice festivities. Another describes what a “freethinker” is. The third side, or the “Wall of Knowledge,” is a collage of the covers of books written by freethinkers. The final side describes human history and the origins of the universe.

    Clearly the Arkansas Society should be allowed to put up a display, but I think they could have come up with something a little more festive. This seems more like an educational booth than something actually celebrating the solstice.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com Robert Madewell

    especially when we’re talking about the same state that brought us Will Phillips.

    Remember, this is the same state that also brought us The Duggars, Mike Huckabee, and Arnold Murray. As a member of a freethought group in Arkansas, maybe I need to be a little more active in my corner of the state. The nuts have had a “monopoly on freespeech” way too long.

  • Edmond

    In all fairness, maybe most Arkansans just don’t BELIEVE that the solstice is real. Don’t try to force your beliefs on them!

  • http://www.venture-free.com VentureFree

    Apparently the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers put up details, including pictures of this years display and the applications and the rejection letters for both years over at http://www.wintersolsticedisplay.info/. It redirects to http://web.me.com/suzique99/WSD/Winter_Solstice.html if you’d rather just go there directly.

  • ckitching

    I hate to dump on their idea, but I can’t say I like their design. I don’t know what other groups are putting up, so I can’t say how it compares, but I think it’s a bit heavy on message and light on visual appeal.

    I think there are several things that could potentially be used on a display like that. Anything from the historical celebrations of the winter solstice, to a simple display of family and friends enjoying each other’s company. Perhaps they only have a shoestring budget and can’t afford the props required to make something like this, though.

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    Remember, this is the same state that also brought us The Duggars, Mike Huckabee, and Arnold Murray. As a member of a freethought group in Arkansas, maybe I need to be a little more active in my corner of the state. The nuts have had a “monopoly on freespeech” way too long.

    And don’t forget Rapture Ready is based in Arkansas. I forgot about the Duggars momentarily, but I have no idea how.

  • http://www.ainajaharah.net Aina

    I am in Little Rock. I have to say that the display looks like an outhouse. It’s ugly. If the display was denied for that reason, I could understand. But since there was no reason given we can only assume that it is because it isn’t laden with godcrap.

    Hey, Robert — What part of the state are you in?

  • http://limadean.wordpress.com Nadine

    Apparently the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers put up details, including pictures of this years display and the applications and the rejection letters for both years over at http://www.wintersolsticedisplay.info/. It redirects to http://web.me.com/suzique99/WSD/Winter_Solstice.html if you’d rather just go there directly.

    The weird thing about this is that both of the Freethinkers’ letters give an extensive description of the display. In 2008 the response says “at this time we are unable to fully determine the appearance or qualities of your proposed display” and in 2009 they don’t even bother saying anything like that. The 2009 letter rejects it with no reason given besides that the Ark. Secretary of State is charged with “preserving and maintaining proper order and decorum on the State Capital Grounds.”
    Maybe their display isn’t the best (honestly, I’d rather see a simple sign like FFRF’s Winter Solstice one from Washington last year), but it seems that maintaing proper order and decorum would involve allowing all points of view to be displayed.
    The “it doesn’t fit in with our holiday tone” statement is incredibly arbitrary.

  • http://www.angryatheist.net Alexander Blake

    Hmm, It will be interesting to see if we will hear about this on the news at all :|

  • muggle

    Tod Billings! Flash from my past. We used to participate on a lot of boards together (in the bad old days of bulletin boards) when I went by New York Bitch and PROUD of it. He was a great guy and I’ll have to drop him a line and wish him luck with this.

    Yeah, it’s pretty bad visually but could have been worse. He used to do a great running gag about worshipping his dog Newton’s butt that was hilarious. I’ll have to ask how Newton’s doing.

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    Did you get the update on this? They won!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X