An enormous, red "A" on Daley Plaza is stirring up controversy about the meaning of the season. Dick Johnson reports.
As Chicago's Daley Plaza became filled with signs of holiday spirit last week, atheists added an emblem to the seasonal display.
The “Freedom from Religion Foundation” lit up a neon “A is for Atheism” display between a Hanukkah menorah and Christmas nativity scene at the plaza where the city erected its annual Christmas tree.
The 8-foot light display features a neon cursive “A,” standing for “atheist” or “agnostic,” and a banner that explains the winter solstice celebration, or the “the birth of the unconquered sun.” It also pays tribute to the birth of the Bill of Rights, “which reminds us there can be no freedom of religion without having freedom from religion in government.”
“If the government is going to open up a public forum to religion, then it has to permit the nonreligious — nearly 20percent of our nation today — to express our point of view as well,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
The organization said the city permitted the display to remain in the plaza until the end of December.
A similar solstice sign was also erected in Springfield.
“At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail,” the sign reads. “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
The same message goes up annually in the Wisconsin State Capitol, where the group was founded.
The winter solstice, “the shortest and darkest day of the year,” takes place on Dec. 21, the group said.