New Solstice Display Goes Up in Raleigh, North Carolina

The Triangle Freethought Society put up a display in Moore Square in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier today to counterbalance a Christian nativity scene in the same area.

“While we support the freedom of religion and the right to free speech, we feel strongly that if the city of Raleigh is going to allow an overtly Christian display to be erected in our public square, other points of view should be represented as well,” noted Mark Zumbach, President of TFS. “Not doing so would have given the appearance that our city government is endorsing Christianity.”

Their display is a explanation of why we celebrate this time of year:


WinterSolsticeSign[1]

I think it’s positive without being disparaging — kudos to the TFS for the nice wording.

Even more positive is the fact that during the unveiling celebration earlier today, attendees were told to bring non-perishable canned goods or to make a financial donation for the Food Bank of Central Carolina.

(Thanks to Todd for the link!)

  • CybrgnX

    Antone taking bets on how long it will be before the members of the MORAL people deface the sign??? 3days max.

  • Trace

    I like your new “illuminati” banner.

    As for the display… It is so… informative? Best paragraph, the last one.

  • Casimir

    In a funny coincidence, I was hanging upside down when I first saw the redesigned site. (I see what you did there.)

  • Sock

    Frankly, I see this one as being deceptively confrontational. Yes, it’s informative, and yes, it doesn’t lie, and while no, it doesn’t use “fightin’ words”… it’s still attacking the ignorance most all Americans are plagued with.

    And yes, I do think it’s an awful state of affairs that they’re so ignorant, I also think that a lot of those ignorant people will react immediately with anger, not curious thoughtfulness, when they see this.

    Maybe that’s what’s needed, but I’m still undecided on how I feel about this.

  • ckitching

    I like the message on the sign. However, since it mentions “mythological gods” in reference to Jesus, people will be utterly outraged.

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    I like it. I like that it’s informative without being too confrontational. Most people don’t realize that Christmas didn’t start with Christians. Many Christian signs, news programs, articles, etc are more “in your face” than this. I say, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it. Kudos to the TFS!

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Happy winter solstice everyone.

  • Claudia

    Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as “non-confrontational” for fundamentalists. In the same way that homophobes see two men holding hands as “flauntin” and “attacking traditional marriage”, they see our different vision of the holidays as a direct attack on their religion.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t continue doing these things; they can have an effect on the moderately religious or those doubting their faith. But we shuold eally forget about crafting a message that no one will claim to be offended by. No such message exists outside “Praise Jesus, Merry Christmas!”

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  • Joyfulbaby

    Ooh, we’re heading to Raleigh tomorrow. We’ll have to stop by Moore Square and see this. Nice.

  • Rob

    See! NC has athiests! (just in the larger cities) :) Does this help counterbalance the “Santa praying over Jesus” display we had last week?

  • Rob

    Oh… and I like the new title banner.

  • http://lyonlegal.blogspot.com/ Vincent

    One’s up on the courthouse grounds in Leesburg VA as well:
    http://www.meetup.com/beltwayatheists/photos/789155/?success=uploaded#12337434

  • Guy G

    If someone says to you “Remember the reason for the season”, they probably mean that Jesus is the reason for the holiday period. They would be wrong, as the time around the solstice has been celebrated for ages, but that’s what they mean.

    If you respond with “The reason for the season is our planet’s axial tilt”, it seems like literalist bloody-mindedness. It implies that you’re purposely taking the word “season” out of context, and taking it to mean winter (which it doesn’t in this case – it means the holiday season) just to be a smartarse. Yes, you could say that the reason for the holidays is because of the winter solstice, which in the northern hemisphere means that the days have got as short as they’re going to, and hence is as good a reason as any to celebrate, but saying “The reason we celebrate around this time of year is because of the planet’s axial tilt” is a bit far removed from that – there’s a couple of missing links of causality.

    I think that the line: “Today we know that the ‘reason for the season’ … is simply a result of the axial tilt of our planet” just makes whoever put up the sign look a little ignorant and patronising (it sounds to me as though it’s saying “No stupid, Jesus isn’t the reason it gets cold in winter – that’s because of the axial tilt”, as if religious people are beyond understanding that (when in fact, it’s not what religious people are saying anyway)). I don’t like it at all.

    The rest of it’s pretty good though.

  • Shannon

    Eh. I liked the one posted a few days ago better. I think this one is indeed confrontational, for reasons others have pointed out.

    I think the holiday displays should be inspirational and could do without the lesson. The canned good drive is a nice touch though.

  • http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ Dromedary Hump

    I’m so tired of apologetic atheists.

    Yes, it implies Jesus is just one of many gods man has honored on Dec 25. They are all mythical.
    Yes, it clearly states Xmas was coopted from pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.
    Yes, it could be interpreted as confrontational; and the mindless who intentionally deny history and object to realty may well be offended.

    So the heck what? Is anything in it a deception? Is truth now to be tip toed upon so we can avoid bruising the sensiblities of the deluded who demand their religion be given special govenmental endorsement by singular placement on public property? Is their offense by the secular sign more valued and worthy of more respect than my offense at their religious intrusion on property I pay to support?

    And if “inspiration” needs to be supplied by statues in a publicly owned arena, then their “faith” is pretty damn weak — they have bigger issues.

    Yes, let us all worry about offending the willfully ignorant. Maybe when the annual Holocaust denier convention comes around we should scorn any attempts to offset its denial & ignorance with truth and reality, lest it injure the sensibilities of anti-Semites.

    I love that sign. There should be one whereever relgionists seek to coopt public property to promote their delusion.

  • http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ Dromedary Hump

    PS to Hemant..
    Clearly your new banner is the work of Satan!

  • http://kaleenamenke,blogspot.com Kaleena

    Happy Winter Solstice Everyone!! Yay for more sunlight! (Too bad we wont see a noticeable difference for several weeks still)

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    See Hemant! North Carolinians aren’t ALL a bunch of bible-thumpin-jeebus-freaks!
    :-)

    Way to be fair and balanced!
    I kid. I kid.

    On an unrelated note, I lived in the Raleigh Durham area for 6 years, and have no clue where Moore plaza is. Hmmm. I need to get out more.

  • http://www.rationalitynow.com Dan Gilbert

    Great wording! That’s a terrific sign. Kudos to TFS!

  • Brian

    Let’s face it. Until someone manages to work “obliquity of the ecliptic” into a decent sounding holiday carol, the baby in the manger is not going to go away.

  • offensive lyricist

    The carol could start:

    Virgin Mary found cryptic
    the obliquity of the ecliptic,
    And forget the Holy Spirit,
    Joseph is the one who ripped it.

  • muggle

    Great sign.

    And I second (or third or whatever it’s up to) the let’s stop being apologetic about telling the truth. Liars should be called out as such!

  • AxeGrrl

    Shannon wrote:

    Eh. I liked the one posted a few days ago better. I think this one is indeed confrontational, for reasons others have pointed out.

    I think the holiday displays should be inspirational and could do without the lesson.

    I completely agree.

    If freethinkers stick to just expressing what they’re about, without even mentioning the religious, the better the message imo. Even subtly confrontational messages can sometimes come across as being snippy or negative….

    If you can achieve the same result without doing that, why do it?

    The last sign was as close to perfection as I’ve seen so far:

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/12/15/seattle-atheists-get-display-in-olympia-washington/

    When the religious get their knickers in a twist over something inoccuous, they look bad, not us.

  • http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ Dromedary Hump

    Yeah…Dog forbid atheists be viewed by theists as “snippy or negative.”

    I mean the next thing you know they will think of us as godless heathens with no ethics or morals, socialists, communists, who want to destroy this country and defile their man-god thus are unfit to hold public office.

    Oh…wait… they already believe that.

  • Sara

    ATL-Apostate…

    It’s downtown Raleigh. Tir Na Nog? Cafe Luna? Know that area?

    I am a bit sad I had not heard about this in the news…I am in the Raleigh area…

  • Kristopia

    I think the sign is great. And frankly, it’s only confrontational to those who believe the mythology of Jesus. It SHOULD be confrontational – it was this kind of thing that made me, as a former fundamentalist christian minister, start thinking critically and studying in order to “fight the enemy.” That study is what led me to rational thought and out of the fairy tale.

    I live in the Triangle area of NC (Raleigh/Durham), and I’m joining the freethinkers group. I was pleased to find an atheist social meetup as well on meetup.com for the area – it’s over 500 members strong. We can have a voice, too, and Christians shouldn’t have a corner on using city property to display their message.

    Oh, by the way, they thought ahead about possible offense and desecration of the sign – there are backups ;)

  • http://bridgingschisms.org Eshu

    On the confrontation issue.

    We should not be worrying how our signs are received by fundamentalists. They are a lost cause. They only know how to be offended and angry. Don’t waste your time listening to their whining.

    We should we concerned about how the signs are received by liberal/agnostic believers. If the signs offend or upset them, rather than making them think, then we have wasted our effort and maybe even harmed our cause.

    IMO, honest thoughtful signs like the one above strike the right balance. Fundies will of course be outraged, but liberal believers will see how simple and reasonable the sign is, making the fundies look ridiculous for flipping out.

    If we put up signs that are rude and offensive to even the most reasonable believers, there’s a danger that the fundies may seem sensible and decent by comparison.

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