The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation posted a sign in the Wisconsin state Capitol this week to remind residents that they live in a diverse country.
The sign is located in the same vicinity as the Wisconsin State Capitol Holiday Tree and menorah and 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."
The sign promotes a nonreligious worldview and calls for freedom of beliefs, FFRF co-president Dan Barker said.
"People who disagree with the sign will find it offensive, like how some people [at FFRF] think the nativity scene is offensive," Barker said. "If people think [the sign] is offensive, we're happy with that."
FFRF's sign, Barker added, is not intended to thwart religious messages, but to level the playing field, as a menorah and holiday tree are also displayed in the Capitol each holiday season.
"We would be happy to take down our signs if everyone else took theirs down, too," Barker said.
Barker said the FFRF promotes its views because religion has caused great turmoil and creates walls between people. Practicing religion, he added, causes fierce devotion and has become the source of religious conflict.
"Look at Ireland or Iraq," Barker said. "[These] are good reasons to oppose religion."
Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, recently proposed legislation that would change the name of the holiday tree in the Capitol to the Wisconsin State Christmas Tree. He said he is not opposed to the idea of hanging any religious or nonreligious signage inside the Capitol.
"It's a free country, and [the FFRF] can put up whatever they want," Schneider said. "They have a right under the Constitution."
Schneider added he wants to acknowledge religious affiliation by proposing to call the holiday tree a Christmas tree.
"There are a lot of religious affiliated objects in the Capitol," he said. "I don't have any problem. We have prayer here; people get married here. There are all sorts of things to promote or allow happening. It's the nature of a free society."