Wash. bans Capitol holiday displays, tree to stay - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wash. bans Capitol holiday displays, tree to stay

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Christmas tree can stay, but no more Nativity scene.

That's the word from Washington's Capitol, where protests erupted last winter over competing private holiday displays.

The furor focused on an atheist placard, which said that religion was "myth and superstition." It was stolen and recovered and hundreds came to a protest rally.

The atheists were responding to a private Nativity scene, which was set up next to a long-standing Christmas tree, but a new temporary rule announced Monday says private groups can't leave behind any displays after they're done with a demonstration.

The so-called "Holiday Tree" will stay, because the state is taking it over from the previous sponsors. Officials hope to have a permanent rule in place later this year.

Previous Coverage

(12/1/08) An atheist placard has joined a "holiday tree" and Christian Nativity scene on display in the state Capitol.

The atheist sign was unveiled Monday by Washington members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It reads, in part, "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

The state Capitol has displayed a holiday tree for years, sponsored by the Association of Washington Business. The Nativity scene was first put on display last year by an Olympia real estate agent.

A menorah marking the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah also has been displayed in years past.

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