Every year there are battles over religious displays on public property and the general rule is that a local government can’t allow a religious display while turning down all other religious or non-religious displays. Leesburg, Virginia has a genuinely open public forum where the first ten displays submitted get put on display on the grounds of the county courthouse. And here are those ten displays this year:
The 10 applications that have been submitted and accepted for display are as follows, in chronological order as received:
• A crèche, or nativity scene, from Leesburg resident Dennis Welsh.
• A sign showing a picture of the Easter Bunny, Santa and Jesus Christ with text that states, “Myths for Young and Old,” a quote from Thomas Edison and information about the Loudoun Atheists, submitted by Leesburg resident Emmert Elsea.
• A banner with the text “Celebrating our Constitution” and language about keeping church and state separate, submitted by Leesburg resident Rick Wingrove. The banner comes from American Atheists and NOVA Atheists.
• A banner promoting “reason in the holiday season,” submitted by Lansdowne resident Larry Mendoza.
• A holiday display that will either be a Tree of Knowledge or a holiday message sign, from Sterling resident Lydia Rice.
• A sign displaying a letter from Jesus, submitted by Middleburg resident Jenelle Embrey.
• A piece of art work depicting Santa on a cross to “depict society’s materialistic obsessions and addictions and how it is killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season,” submitted by Middleburg resident Jeff Heflin Jr.
• A sign about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, submitted by Leesburg resident Ken Levesque.
• Another sign from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this one with a holiday message, submitted by Matthew Courtney of Reston.
• A nativity scene, submitted by the Rev. Jack Grubbs from the Potomac Falls Anglican Church.
I like that. That’s what an open forum is all about, genuine diversity of opinion where the government is not endorsing any message.