Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Localities Adjusting Nativity Displays To Avoid Constitutional Problems

As the Christmas season approaches, cities and counties that traditionally placed Nativity Scenes on government property are now responding to constitutional challenges to them. Either in response to demand letters or to actual litigation, one of two types of responses is typical: (1) transfer the nativity scene to private ownership and display of  on private property; or (2) surrounding the nativity scene with numerous secular displays.

In Wadena, Minnesota, the nativity display previously placed in a public park was sold to the Wadena Ministerial Association for $25 and will be placed on a lawn across from the town's hospital.  Forum News Service reported yesterday that a town resident is also inviting others to display nativity scenes, attempting to break the record for the most creches displayed in one area.

In Franklin County, Indiana, the county avoided losing a lawsuit (see prior posting) by adopting an ordinance allowing county resident to erect their own displays on the courthouse lawn alongside the nativity scene. AP reported yesterday that the county has approved 9 displays, including one of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson huddled around a manger holding the Bill of Rights.

UPDATE: Fox19 reports that the banner put up by Freedom From Religion Foundation proclaiming "There are no gods, no angels, no heaven or hell" was stolen from the Franklin County Courthouse grounds over the Dec. 5 weekend.