OLYMPIA, Wash. — An atheist group has unveiled an anti-religion placard in the state Capitol, joining a Christian Nativity scene and "holiday tree" on display during December.
The atheists' sign was installed Monday by Washington members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national group based in Madison, Wis.
With a nod to the winter solstice — the year's shortest day, occurring in late December — the placard reads, in part, "There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
The foundation's co-president, Dan Barker, said it was important for atheists to offer their viewpoint alongside the overtly religious Nativity scene and Christmas-style holiday tree.
"Our members want equal time," Barker said. "Not to muscle, not to coerce, but just to have a place at the table."
The three displays, all privately sponsored, were granted permits from state groundskeepers to be placed in the Capitol's grand marble hallways.
The 25-foot noble spruce, officially called the "Capitol Holiday Kids Tree," is sponsored by the Association of Washington Business and tied to a charity drive for needy families. It's been a Capitol fixture for nearly 20 years.