BY BOB HOLT
The Freedom From Religion Foundation believes in a separation between church and state. They are composed of over 19,000 atheists, agnostics and skeptics.
Their organization is sending a message to Pitman, a small town in south Jersey: “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia.”
That message is being displayed on a banner that the group has purchased to counter Pitman’s long-running message, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” South Jersey Times reported that Freedom From Religion began challenging the local Knights of Columbus organization about the legality of their sign.
The Knights of Columbus has been hanging their sign for several years.
According to FFRF.org, their group got involved in the matter when a resident reported the Pitman banner could be a violation of church and state. The group claims they called a number of public agencies and the Chamber of Commerce, and tried to have their own banner erected, but were not granted permission.
They plan to keep their "Keep Saturn in Saturnalia" billboard up for a month. According to South Jersey Times, Saturnalia is an ancient Roman holiday that takes place during the Winter Solstice. It features a public feast, giving of gifts, and slaves being served by their masters during the period.
Pitman Mayor Russell Johnson says the town can’t do anything about the billboard. It sits on property leased by Clear Channel Communications, a company that pays Pitman $2,000 a year to place advertising. “They own the billboard and they pay us an annual lease to have it there,” Johnson said, according to South Jersey Times.