In Shelton, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the city for its refusal to allow a member of the community to erect a sign in the city’s Constitution Park countering a display of heralding angels (a reference to the Bible’s account of angels heralding the birth of Jesus). The rejected sign reads “Let Reason Prevail” and goes on to assert, “There are no gods, no devils, no angels.”
Ten miles away in New Haven, the Yale Humanist Community (YHC) is undertaking a parallel but strikingly different effort. YHC, a nonprofit dedicated to building an inclusive nonreligious community at Yale and beyond, is working to add a secular holiday display to the traditional symbols that adorn the New Haven Green each December: a menorah, manger, and holiday tree. (We are both involved in YHC as the executive director and a member of the board, respectively.)
Through our recently launched “Green Light Project,” YHC has commissioned a local artist to create a large-scale interactive sculpture. The piece is intended to celebrate community and warmth during the coldest, darkest time of year, and it will shine light that changes as people gather around it, encouraging members of the community to gather together during a time of year when many feel isolated. It will also house a time capsule with messages of hope and wisdom for the future, to be opened on New Haven’s 500th anniversary, connecting community across time.