No Crib for a Bed

December 3, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Economist

On a manicured lawn within the grounds of the Arkansas state capitol in Little Rock a Nativity scene is erected each Advent. It is causing all sorts of problems. Shouldn’t other religions (or, for that matter, those who reject organised religion altogether) get their chance to show off? Doesn’t the display amount to a violation of the canonical separation of religion and politics?

Arkansas’s Society of Freethinkers certainly thinks so. It has attempted to mount a winter solstice display at the capitol for the past two years. In 2008 its proposal was said to be too vague. So this year the group submitted a detailed plan with drawings, only to be rejected again. “We determined this display is inconsistent with the holiday tone that our office is striving to create on the capitol grounds during the holiday season,” says a spokesman for the Arkansas secretary of state.