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November 01, 2009

Washington State Issues Final Rules on Displays at the Capitol: No More Religious/Areligious Displays of Any Kind

Starting December 1, only government-sponsored displays will be allowed inside buildings on the Olympia Capitol campus. This will allow the annual state-sponsored "holiday tree" to go up in the Capitol rotunda, but prevent the kind of circus that developed last year. Displays will be allowed outside on the Capitol grounds during activities or gathering, but only on a temporary basis. Under the new rules they must be removed immediately after the activity or gathering ends.

I wrote about this here with background and here mocking the evangelical atheists who started it. But to quickly sum up: by the time things were done last year, the Capitol was playing host to a Nativity scene, an atheist placard equating religion with myth, two Christian displays mocking atheism, and a menorah, as well as the annual tree. Applications for a Festivus pole, a sign from Fred Phelps which said "Santa will take you to hell", and a Flying Spaghetti Monster were put on hold when the state put a moratorium on displays.

The atheist group which started the brouhaha by putting up the sign: "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." is declaring victory:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, said she was pleased about the new rules but added that they don't go far enough.

"I don't think Nativity scenes belong on the outside of capitols either," Gaylor said.

She pledged to put up a large sign if a Nativity is allowed this year on the Capitol campus.

"We will match whatever they do," she said. "I don't think the public will be any happier about it on the outside than they would be on the inside. I encourage the state to avoid the entire debacle."

Whose fault is this really? I blame the Supreme Court for perpetuating such a ridiculous interpretation of the Establishment Clause.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 04:05 PM

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