Friday, November 06, 2020

Court Refuses Stay of Order On Creche Display

In Woodring v. Jackson County, Indiana, (SD IN, Nov. 3, 2020), an Indiana federal district court refused to stay its final judgment pending appeal in a case challenging the annual display of a creche on the county courthouse lawn.  The court said in part:

Because the crèche straddles the sidewalk subdividing the lawn and the more-secular figures are placed on the periphery, the venerable magi and hallowed manger share center stage. Id. Since the primary focus of the display is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, a reasonable observer would believe that Jackson County was endorsing a particular religion, that is, Christianity. Id. Moreover, the display—which had consisted solely of the Nativity scene for almost twenty years—expanded to include the secular Christmas figures only after Jackson County received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation questioning whether the display was constitutional.... A reasonable observer aware of this "history and context" would view the addition of the ancillary figures as a reactionary effort to obscure the display's religious essence.

(See prior related posting.)