For years now, Loudoun County, Virginia officials have been trying to figure out how to handle holiday displays on public property — the county courthouse.
Last Winter, they opened the floodgates and allowed all groups that wanted them to have displays. Of the 10 displays, most of them came from non-Christians
This year, they’re not taking that chance. The Loudoun County Courts Grounds and Facilities Committee met earlier this week to discuss the issue.
Committee member John Mileo argued that the county was best protected from legal challenges by limiting the display items to those that “pay homage to Christmas,” such as a crèche, Christmas tree and Santa Claus.
Ummm… no. You do that and you’re gonna get sued.
Rick Wingrove of Beltway Atheists explained that at the meeting:
Wingrove said a secular holiday tree would be acceptable to him and his group, but they would actively oppose overtly religious displays on the courthouse grounds.
“The county simply cannot put up a Nativity scene,” he said, citing several court decisions. “They will be sued and they will lose.” He predicted the ensuing legal proceedings would cost the county $2 million.
They took some straw polls at the meeting to see where the commissioners stood.
What about the crèche, Christmas tree and holiday greenery display? Unanimous vote in favor of it all.
What about including a Menorah? It passed… but by a 5-3 margin. Close call.
A snowman? They voted against it. Because, you know, that’s just not godly enough.
This is a lawsuit just waiting to happen… especially when you consider the logic by the people in charge:
Mileo proposed that the county’s crèche be limited to “the baby Jesus in the manger, the Virgin Mother and Father Joseph on either side, and three farm animals.”
He recommended that the crèche be as plain as possible, “not an overly religious-looking crèche,” and suggested that angels not be included.
Because if you have Jesus, Mary, and Joseph… but no angels… it’s not religious looking?
I hope they’ve saving up taxpayer money because it’ll go right into the hands of whatever atheist group plans to sue them.
Meanwhile, in Henderson County, Texas, they’re debating whether or not an atheist sign can be put on the county grounds this winter. In addition to the nativity scene that’s already there.
For nearly a decade, Henderson County has put up a Christmas-themed display that includes trees, lights, Santa Claus and a manger.
Commissioners voted to put up the holiday display once again this December, but have yet to decide how to handle the legal questions before them.
(FFRF is already on that case.)
Look, none of these cases are that hard to solve. Either officials have to allow all displays — including those from atheist groups and Pagan groups and Scientologist groups — or keep the grounds free of faith during the winter. Pick one. I don’t care which. But if any government, local or otherwise, shows favoritism for one faith over other faiths or theism over atheism, we’re coming after you. And we’ll win. The law is on our side.
Stay in touch! Like Friendly Atheist on Facebook: