MANASSAS, Va. — The Freedom From Religion Foundation erected a banner next to a nativity display at Nelson Park in Manassas.

The group posted this to our site:

A FFRF Winter Solstice banner has been placed by a local FFRF member next to the crèche scene in Nelson Park in Manassas, Va. FFRF received a permit from the city for its “Let Reason Prevail” banner to counter the religious exhibit. It will be displayed through Dec. 31.

FFRF’s 7½-by-3-foot banner states: “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

FFRF wishes that the time will come when it won’t have to put up its banners in this manner.

Nelson Park is located near the intersection of Sudley Road and Grant Avenue.

The group regularly posts a similar banner in the city each year, and the FFRF group obtained the proper permits from the city to erect the banner, said Manassas spokeswoman Patty Prince.

The city may only restrict time, place, and length of the display of banners through the permitting process. The city cannot control the content of a banner, other than to ban profanity on banners, added Prince.

Let’s see, which side do I chose…how about none?

My first question is, why is there a manger scene on public property?  There are churches all over Manassas City with wonderful religious scenes.  For instance, Saturday night, St. Thomas Methodist, right across the street, had a living, drive through stations of the nativity.  I went.  It was great.  Lots of cold Christians out there doing their part to live out the season.

I am not going to go howling off in horror if there is a Christmas Tree displayed.  I won’t keel over if I see an angel, an elf,  or other signs of Christmas displayed in the public square.  But I think going the manger route just should be kept to people’s private property or church property.  It’ just a matter of respect and what you really expect other people to pay for.

Now, as for the FFRF, perhaps the words “Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds”  i a harsh statement.  It is their right to believe that, of course, but a public display stating that religion is myth and superstition?  I suppose it accomplishes it’s purpose, regardless of who is offended.

All this could be solved by keeping religious displays out of the public square.   Stick to trees, Rudolph, Santa, or elves. Those are Christmas Icons, not religious symbols.  while,

Meanwhile, the City could stop the situation by controlling what goes in Nelson Park, equitably.  They certainly exercised their control when the reproductive clinic was the object of demonstrations, both pro and con.

My guess is that no one really minds.  It gives people something to grumble about on both “sides.”




8 Thoughts to “Establishment of Religion? Let the Reason Prevail….and stuff”

  1. NorthofNokesville

    Ah, Moon, so many angles to this one.

    1. Yes, the FFRF should be allowed to post their sign. Of course. But frankly they do their own cause harm, like the vegan in a large group deciding on which restaurant to visit or which meal to choose who takes that opportunity to chide the others about their diet. Most people politely listen and nod, then hope they don’t get seated next to them so they can ignore them. You might even agree with parts of what they say, but it’s just so…. tiresome.
    2. “Only our natural world”… I love this line. With religion largely privatized, sentimentalized, and watered down like most culture, natural beauty is our #1 source of awe and elevation, I would argue. Where this sentiment goes down the drain is that somehow nature softens hearts. It can just as easily be cold, cruel, exploitive, competitive, and extremely violent. But for most, nature is just as domesticated as religion, made safe, boring. This ties in the with the “mother nature as victim” BS we’ve been fed. If humankind harms or changes the planet sufficiently, we might end survivability for ourselves or large numbers, but nature will go on, some species rising, others falling.
    3. Groups like this pick on the low-hanging fruit, conspicuously. My admiration for these crusaders would rise if they did the same point-making with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, or others. Or even better, some of the animistic religions. But probably better to tilt at windmills that don’t hit back.
    4. Absence of religion or attacks on religion have been enormously damaging as well. The largest body counts in history have come from officially irreligious or anti-religious regimes: Soviet Russia and Communist China. Not excusing religion, there’s blood on many hands. But the whole idea “if we just fix X” where X is religion… that’s patently stupid.
    5. Timing. It’s related to #1, but the timing is telling, because they’re going after peoples’ joy, like a scold (and, ironically, in very puritan fashion). Why not be more helpful and try to reduce suffering, downside? Go after Christians during Lent and say “You’re starting 40 days of pointless preparation, don’t feel guilty.” Or visit temples on Yom Kippur and say, “Stop atoning, your guilt is bullshit.” Or, “instead of feeling bad, heres’ the ‘natural’ thing I’m doing.”

    But, in the spirit of the season, let me just wish them joy!


    Holst is a safe option for them, organizing his suite by planet, though with a pagan veneer. Hope they don’t mind 🙂

    1. I like posts that make me smile. North, you made some excellent points. My question is, (and perhaps I should have asked before I pontificated) who put up the Christian display? Was it the City or a private guest display? That makes all the difference in how I feel about it. If everyone is asked to participate then Hell, go for it. I just don’t know why a City would invite that kind of wrangling.

      1. NorthofNokesville


        🙂 my work is done here.

        I agree, the city shouldn’t be paying either way. Keeps it clean and neutral, which is ok. I don’t know who paid but suspect the City didn’t because that would be a larger story and would likely have been contested. Just surmising.

        Plus the three “kings” were likely Zoroastrians (not kings at all, but men of wisdom and astronomy), and of course the other human participants in the scene would be Jewish, including Christ. It’s got diversity baked in from the start.

  2. Robin Hood

    Enjoy your freedom of speech and religion as long as you can, until the Russians come.

  3. Big Dog

    Old Timers may remember the Nativity Display
    being placed on the grounds of the Old
    Courthouse for a number of years.
    Think it was moved to Nelson Park about

    1. Hi Big Dog. Merry Christmas. Sigh, I guess I am an old timer.

      You answered my question–the display does belong to the City.

  4. Big Dog

    My memory is that the display isn’t owned
    by the city, but a local women’s club of long standing.
    The city council was given legal council that
    It could be there, but that other groups could
    place displays if they met the same

    Merry Christmas!

    1. I will ask around. Thanks for the info. I wonder who has to store that equipment?

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