For Immediate Release
(Little Rock, Arkansas, Nov 29, 2011) For the third 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 depicts the science behind the winter solstice and the mythologies that arose from this celestial event, as well as suggested readings and quotes from famous philosophers, scientists, and other secular writers and thinkers.
The Freethinkers will begin construction at approximately 2:00 PM Tuesday on the South lawn of the state Capitol. The display will again be festooned with holiday lights and garland, and remain up for five weeks through the holiday season. It will go up near the Christian crèche which has been on display on state capitol grounds each holiday season for over half a century.
"We want to remind Arkansans that there are many reasons for this season which predate Christianity,” declared David Bentley, President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. “Many ancient cultures celebrated the return of the sun in the days immediately following the winter solstice. The ancient gods Horus, Osiris, Attis, and many others were celebrated by their followers as being born on December 25th", said Bentley.
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 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 Wright 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 3rd. 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, 11:30 PM Central Standard Time.
# # #
For hi-res images of each of the four sides of the display, free for media use, visit www.CentralArkansasCoR.org
For more information contact:
Winter Solstice Display high resolution photos: