After suffering the indignity of national media exposure last Christmas the great state of Washington is calling everyone out of the pool for Christmas 2009. Nobody will be celebrating any of their beliefs at the capitol this Christmas. Last year was just too much, they say.
For years the capitol building has hosted a nativity scene every holiday season without incident. But when the Freedom from Religion Foundation knocked on their door in 2008 it brought with them lots of media exposure as they placed a sign in the very shadows of the Baby Jesus, Mary and the Magi which read: â€œAt 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.â€
Allowed inside the state Capitol in Olympia this coming winter: a holiday tree. (No Christmas trees, though).
Not allowed: a Nativity scene, an atheist sign, a “Seinfeld”-inspired Festivus pole and other displays sponsored by private organizations.
The department that oversees the Capitol grounds announced an interim policy on displays, a response to the furor that erupted last year after an atheist group put up an anti-religion sign next to a Nativity scene in the Capitol.
The policy, which took effect today, does not allow any nongovernmental displays in any building on Capitol grounds. But it does allow such displays outside, on campus grounds.
“We want to preserve everyone’s right to free expression. We just want to make sure we manage things better than they went last year,” said Steve Valandra, spokesman for the Department of General Administration.
The policy applies to any private organization or individual, not just religious â€” or atheist â€” groups.