Atheist Group Sets Up Odd Display in Chicago

A Chicago-area atheist group has set up a display celebrating the Bill of Rights right next to a traditional Nativity display in downtown Chicago.

Under the direction of the Freedom From Religion Foundation an 8.5 foot tall letter “A” — for atheist — was erected to mark the display. In front of the A, a symbol suggested by atheist activist Richard Dawkins, is a banner celebrating the “season of the Winter Solstice.”


Atheists wanting equal time at Christmas and exercising their first amendment rights is something we’re all for.

But perhaps it is time to have…for lack of a better term…a “come to Jesus” moment about what it is they actually believe and how they might want to represent it.

First of all, a scarlet letter A is not exactly a universal symbol for faithlessness.

Ok, so representing “nothing” is a bit of a challenge. But using a big letter “A” probably isn’t the best start.

But more importantly, how about a little study on the pagan practice of celebrating the Winter Solstice?

Pagans were not, after all, godless. In fact, they dealt with a multiplicity of gods and for a group that makes their living dissing god they might want to check that strategy of adopting one god-based group while attacking another at the door. Consistency in messaging is what I think they call it.

“We celebrate the birth of the Unconquered Sun – the TRUE reason for the season,” their banner reads.

Atheists do? Really?

Pagan association with Winter Solstice was peppered with god worship. In fact, most societies have a form of celebration tied to the Winter Solstice and nearly all of them include the recognition or worship of a Supreme Being.

In Peru the ancient celebration of Winter Solstice was a religious ceremony acknowledging the god Inti.

In Slavic countries the god Hors, representing the dying sun darkened at solstice, is defeated by the Black God, only to overcome the evil to be resurrected as the solstice progressed from shortening of days to lengthening of days.

In ancient Russia winter solstice was celebrated by making fire and inviting household gods to join in their festivities. A gift-bringer named Koledan brought good luck and gifts.

The Hopi natives of North America anciently celebrated winter solstice with prayers…to who? Yes, a god.

In ancient Greece winter solstice is marked by the legend of one god being eaten and destroyed by another with the conquered god being reborn as a baby.

Even in old New Zealand, being a southern hemisphere location, their winter solstice in June is marked by the leaving of one god and the arrival of another.

Winter solstice in pagan times of Germanic societies were steeped in worship of gods and even have ties to Wiccan practices, which, of course, celebrate both gods and goddesses.

In Iran and other countries of Persia the winter solstice belonged…to God. Like most, their celebrations marked the overcoming of darkness by light, all controlled and acknowledged by Gods they worshiped.

Even the Roman practice of Saturnalia, referenced by the atheist display in Chicago as the birth of the Unconquered Sun, is started with a sacrifice to Saturn, a god.

In China and other ancient Asian societies the winter solstice has always marked a time of spiritual connection to their calendar. It was a time when evil spirits were overcome through methods tied to Deity alone.

Even Hanukkah, which only occurs around the time of winter solstice, ties into the theme of light conquering the darkness — made possible and blessed by God.

Most ancient practices of celebration of the winter solstice is tied to worship and many such events have curious parallels to Christianity theologically in their themes of life after death, overcoming darkness, reliance on Deity for luck, good fortune and prosperity, and worship of Supreme Beings who control the universe.

It’s odd that atheists would embrace them in their quest for quelling the abundance of Christmas out there in the public.

If they believe there is no God that is what they should represent — and not adopt the practice of observing the Winter Solstice as a means of attacking the faithful.

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