Last year, the courthouse Grounds and Facilities Committee wanted to ban all displays, while the county Supervisor and other community members wanted to continue to allow all displays — including atheist ones. (Both options would’ve been legal.)
Even the state’s notoriously conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli weighed in on the matter because he wanted to see nativity scenes in front of the courthouse:
… it is my opinion that a local governmental entity is never categorically compelled to prohibit holiday displays, including those incorporating recognizably religious symbols, because governments enjoy considerable discretion in accommodating the religious expression of their citizens and employees and in their own recognition of traditional seasonal holidays. It is further my opinion that displays depicting the birth of Jesus Christ are permissible provided the government ensures appropriate content and context.
Of course, the only legal way to allow nativity scenes at the courthouse is to allow non-Christian displays as well.
After all the discussion, the county decided to continue allowing all displays. The rules were as follows: 10 displays would be allowed on the courthouse grounds and applications would be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cuccinelli and his allies wanted to open the door for nativity scenes… but it turns out they kept the floodgates open for atheists.
Of the ten displays this year, only three of them are Christian: two nativity scenes and a “letter from Jesus.”
The rest? Well, just check out this list:
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 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.
Oh. And there’s some art work featuring Santa on a cross to show “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.”
How amazingly blasphemous and wonderful is that?!
If that’s not awesome enough, it turns out that one of the display spaces may be out of commission… meaning the county would have to cut the number of displays down to nine. That means axing the last application that was approved… which would be one of the nativity scenes
This is actually the second year atheists have taken advantage of this let-all-displays-flourish policy — last year, they had six displays as well.
Thanks to Ken Cuccinelli and all the Christians who supported the idea of allowing all displays on the courthouse grounds! It backfired on you, completely, but the holiday season just got better for the rest of us.
(Thanks to Holly for the link!)