Atheists, clearly agitated that Christians purportedly “stole” various holiday traditions from pagans, have come up with a solution: A potentially-offensive “natural nativity scene” that removes baby Jesus and replaces traditional Bible characters with some eyebrow-raising alternatives. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is behind the spectacle, which emerged this week as part of a diorama inside the Wisconsin state capitol.
The angel that typically graces the nativity is replaced with an astronaut. And the wise-men — prominent figures in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth — are replaced with evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, scientist Albert Einstein, anarchist Emma Goldman and author Mark Twain. The Statue of Liberty is also placed in the alternative nativity to purportedly symbolize freedom.
Rather than including Mary, whom the FFRF dismisses as “a mythical fertility figure,” the display includes Venus, the Roman goddess of love. And forget about Joseph — this depiction has Thomas Jefferson, a figure atheist groups enjoy touting for his purported church versus state views. According to the FFRF, Jefferson “would have disavowed Christian devotional scenes on state property.”
Most noticeably, instead of Jesus, an African American baby girl is utilized. According to a press release put out by the organization, this action was chosen in an effort to encourage society to “adore girl children as much as boy children.” Also, the inclusion of this figure was implemented to showcase that life commenced in Africa.
“We nonbelievers don’t mind sharing the season with Christians, but we think there should be some acknowledgment that the Christians really ‘stole’ the trimmings of Christmas, and the sun-god myths, from pagans,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor proclaimed on the group’s web site.
In addition to the nativity, the organization has also placed a sign in the capitol rotunda that lambastes Christmas’ religious significance. It reads:
“At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.
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.”
On the back of the poster, a poem from Ella Wheeler, a Wisconsin poet, is included. Much like the front of the sign, the selection, entitled, “The World’s Need,” takes aim at the world’s many religions.
The FFRF assembles the sign each year (this is the 17th time it has appeared in the capitol) in an effort to ensure that its non-theist views are heard during the holiday season. Additionally, this is the second year that the nativity has been included (read about last year’s display here).
While the group claims that it would like all religious symbols out of government buildings, it maintains its own right to have anti-faith signs and symbols present if those more religious elements also have a place.