Controversial display near nativity scene

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A group from Wisconsin, the Freedom from Religion Foundation is sending out a message nationwide that the holiday season is not about Christmas, but about the Winter Solstice.

Representatives from the organization in Mississippi posted a plaque inside the capitol near the nativity scene that was presented by the Mississippi 9/11 Remembrance Foundation.

The plaque 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 other side of the plaque it says: "State/Church... KEEP THEM SEPARATE."

Local representative Pat Colb says they wanted to present balance in the state capitol.

"We just wanted to provide a counter balance saying we are here too we are not bad people, but we'd like to be represented," Colb said.

She says their belief is that religion is based on contradiction. "Most of us just don't see religion, organized religion making any sense."

The 9/11 Remembrance Foundation posted the nativity display per the Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant's request.

Bryant says the purpose is to honor American soldiers during the holidays.

"Recognizing our troops during Christmas, praying for our troops, I think it's a perfect fit."

Foundation leader Justin Barnard says he is not offended by the plaque, rather he says freedom of opinion is what the country was founded on.

"It's great that we live in a country that we're free to do that," Barnard said. "That's what makes our country whole is that both organizations can express their views."

Meantime, another sign was posted on the first floor of the capitol that reads: "Christ - The reason for Christmas and the Hope of the world."

Also, a Christmas tree sponsored by a Christian foundation, the Mustard Seed sits in the middle of the first floor capitol rotunda.

The Freedom from Religion sign will sit in the capitol until the first of the year.

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