News

November 27, 2012

Freethinkers Return for 4th Year to State Capitol

 For Immediate Release

(Little Rock, Arkansas, Nov 26, 2012) For the fourth consecutive year, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers will erect a winter solstice holiday display on the grounds of the state capitol.
 
 The four-sided display explains the science behind the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, and explores a number of mythologies that arose from this celestial event. Its panels refer to books about the science and myths, and include quotes from famous philosophers, scientists, and other secular writers and thinkers.
 
 The Freethinkers will begin erecting the exhibit at approximately 2:00 PM Thursday on the South lawn of the state Capitol. The display will be decorated with holiday lights and garland. It will remain standing through the holiday season. It will be situated near the Christian crèche which has been on display on state capitol grounds each holiday season for over half a century.
 
 "We want everyone to join us in acknowledging the history of celebrations around the time of the winter solstice," said Susan Heffington, president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. “The return of the sun in the days immediately following the winter solstice was celebrated by many ancient societies long before Christianity. The followers of many of the ancient gods such as Horus of Egypt, Mithra of Persia, Krishna of India,  the Mayans’ Quetzalcoatl, and Greco-Roman god Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, celebrated their births on December 25th,” said Heffington.
 
 In 2009 Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels denied the group’s request to erect the display, so the Freethinkers sued in federal court. The ACLU of Arkansas provided legal support and funding for the lawsuit. United States District Judge Susan Webber (Wright) Carter found that by denying the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers the opportunity to present an alternative to the Christian crèche, the Secretary of State’s action was tantamount to establishment of religion. Judge Carter granted an injunction that allowed the display to go up. The Arkansas Secretary of State let the deadline to challenge the ruling expire, and did not fight the case further.
 
 The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers will also participate with a float in the annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade, Saturday, December 1st. The parade will wind through downtown streets ending at the Capitol, just in time for the official lighting ceremony at 6pm, where the Capitol and all displays will be lit up for the season.
 
 This year the winter solstice occurs December 21st, 05:12 AM Central Standard Time. There will be a solstice celebration on the Capitol at the display on Friday December21st at 7pm. The Freethinkers have planned a Human Light celebration for Sunday, December 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System. The public is invited.
 
 The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers promotes a secular, non-theistic, humanist viewpoint in public discourse and serves as a watchdog to protect separation of church and state. It hosts informative activities and events focused on the use of critical thinking, science, reason, and tolerance, and it provides a secular community and fellowship network for secularists. Its website is at www.ARfreethinkers.org.
 
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For hi-res images of each of the four sides of the display, free for media use, visit www.CentralArkansasCoR.org
 
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 For more information contact:
 
LeeWood Thomas
Media Representative
Arkansas Society of Freethinkers
501-765-4287
LeeWoodThomas@yahoo.com
www.ARfreethinkers.org
 
 Susan Heffington
President
Arkansas Society of Freethinkers
501-420-2966
Arkansasfreethinker@gmail.com 
www.ARfreethinkers.org
 
Anne Orsi
Vice President
Arkansas Society of Freethinkers
501-416-6568
anneorsi@orsi.us
www.ARfreethinkers.org