On Monday, a federal judge ruled that Secretary of State Charlie Daniels was obligated to allow a local group of atheists to put up a display marking the winter solstice on the Capitol grounds. The winter solstice will occur on December 21 this year (this Monday); it is the shortest day of the year, marking the first day of winter, and always occurs during the Christmas season. Many would ask, “What’s wrong with a seasonal display that depicts an astronomical event?” The fact is, however, that the display the Freethinkers are promoting does not simply discuss seasonal changes; it proselytizes about atheism, evolution, and the Freethinkers themselves. It really isn’t a winter solstice display at all.
The display box is four feet wide and eight feet tall. There are four sides to the display, each highlighting a different aspect of the Freethinker message. Below is an explanation of each side and what it communicates to the viewer.
Side one begins with a friendly “Season’s Greetings!” and sets out to ‘educate’ people on the winter solstice; misrepresentations are found all along the way. The biggest lie is the claim that “Christmas reveals its Pagan roots.” While it’s true that pagan events have been celebrated around the same time as Christmas, the assertion that Christmas has ‘Pagan roots’ is misleading. Christmas is the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it. Even the word ‘Christmas’ clearly points to Christ as the central figure. The observance of winter solstice is completely separate from the holiday of Christmas; it always has been.
Next, the focus switches to ‘Pagan symbols’ that should be placed around one’s home in observance of winter solstice. The Christmas tree is one of the symbols singled out. The display says, “If you choose to have a living or harvested evergreen tree as part of your holiday decorations, call it a Solstice tree and decorate it with Pagan symbols.” Apparently, the use of holly, ivy, evergreen, and pine cones is Pagan. The display doesn’t back this claim up with facts, however, and merely states that red, green, and white are Pagan colors used during this time of year.
Let’s get something straight: Even if some of these symbols and colors were associated with winter solstice and the worship of nature, it doesn’t matter. To Christians, the Christmas tree doesn’t represent worshipping nature; it represents worshipping Jesus. We put the Star of Bethlehem on top of the Christmas tree to remind us of our Lord’s birth. The tree itself is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ selfless death on the cross—called a tree in several areas of the Bible—for our sins.
Side one of the display ends with the glorification of Pagan gods like Cronos, Thor, Isis, and many more. People are encouraged to adorn there home with pentagrams, and “meditate for world peace” and “work magic for a healthier planet.” It is clear that the Freethinkers’ claim of being ‘atheists’ is a deception; they are claiming atheism while pushing pagan ritualism, whether they realize it or not.
Side two asks, “What is a Freethinker?” and goes into an exhaustive explanation of the term. One cannot help but notice the elitism. The display says: “Atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, deists, and most Unitarian Universalists fall under the heading of ‘freethinkers.’ The only real criterion for being a freethinker is to have arrived at your belief system independent of preexisting dogma or authority.” Since deists are included in this definition, and they believe that an impersonal god exists, what is really being said is that you aren’t a ‘freethinker’ if you believe in the active and personal God of the Bible. Ironically, Freethinkers criticize Christians, but embrace Darwinism, which could easily be called a “preexisting dogma or authority.” The cult of Charles Darwin is dogmatic in its own right and very exclusive in its worldview.
Another interesting factor of side two is its section on “Famous Freethinkers.” Included in the list are celebrities such as Jodie Foster, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Uma Thurman and Christopher Reeve. Is this somehow supposed to convince people that embracing atheism and paganism is the way to go?
Even Abraham Lincoln is singled out as a so-called ‘freethinker.’ Of course, they don’t bother to offer a quote from Lincoln, just an excerpt from a book written about him that claims he wasn’t a member of any Christian Church, did not believe in the inspiration of Scripture, consorted with Freethinkers, and took part in bashing the gospel story of Jesus. A clearer picture of Lincoln can be found in this quote: “That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or any denomination of Christians in particular” (July 31, 1846). Lincoln went on to say, “I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion.” Apparently the Abraham Lincoln who believed in God and the Bible just didn’t fit the Freethinkers’ message well enough.
Side three doesn’t require much dissecting; it is a massive list of recommended reading material. The Freethinkers want you to read books like “The End of Faith,” “God is not Great,” “Losing Faith in Faith,” “Why Christianity Must Change or Die,” “The God Virus,” The God Delusion,” “Atheist Manifesto,” “When God Was a Woman,” and “God: The Failed Hypothesis.”
Side four breaks away from paganism, nature worship, and Christian bashing. In its place, however, is a long bit of propaganda about how humans evolved from apes, including a timeline for the development of life on Earth. Many scientists, biologists, and archeological discoveries have refuted the popular theory on human evolution time and time again, but this hasn’t stopped the Freethinkers from pushing the theory as fact. That’s because they really don’t want ‘freethinkers’ at all—they simply want people to think how they think.
The atheist display by the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers ultimately has nothing to do with a holiday; it is a shrine to paganism, nature worship, and Charles Darwin, the god of atheism. It is meant to bash Christianity, not free any minds to the truth. What this group wants to do is confuse Arkansans into a panic during the Christmas season through propaganda, distortions, and flat-out lies. The Freethinkers claim to promote ‘tolerance’ and ‘peace,’ but do they hold to these values? Getting the ACLU to sue the state and convincing a federal judge to force atheistic ideas under the guise of ‘holiday decorations’ doesn’t appear to be tolerant or peaceful at all.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.