Victory for Atheists in Ellwood City

Last week, I mentioned that Ellwood City (Pennsylvania) planned to vote on holding a lottery to decide who could put up a holiday display in City Hall.

Obviously, this was a backdoor way to let Christians put up a Nativity Scene on public property.

Last night, the borough council voted against the lottery 4-3. Victory!

Council President Anthony “Lefty” DeCarbo cast the deciding no vote after Councilwomen Judith Dici and Marilyn Mancini, and Councilman Glenn Jones voted against the recommendation. Councilmen George Celli, Ralph Chiappetta and John Todorich voted in favor.

With Monday’s vote, the existing policy adopted last December will stand. That policy calls for the Nativity, which has been on borough property in front of the municipal building for at least a half-century, to be moved onto private property this year.

Oh no! Private property!

I don’t know how the Christians in the area will be able to handle a Nativity Scene that doesn’t simultaneously say “screw you” to people of every other faith.

It’s the right move from the council. They’re avoiding an inevitable lawsuit and saving local taxpayers a lot of money.

(via Steel City Skeptics)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Jbandsma

    You don’t know the area there. It’s totally blighted with the closing of the steel mills. Jobs are scarce, property values are at rock bottom. Lovely area for those retired or on fixed incomes (except in winter when the oil for heating costs more than gas for your car). What does this have to do with christians being upset about the ruling? Most of them have come to the conclusion that if there is a god of any stripe, it doesn’t recognize the areas of Ellwood City, Aliquippa, Rochester, Beaver.

  • NewAtheist

    I’m glad the council voted to uphold the Constitution.

    • Jbandsma

      I’m not a bit surprised. They don’t have the money to fight a lawsuit…and they well know it. It was close, to placate the vocal religinoids (the area is heavily Catholic) but the council can’t afford to be sued.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    I don’t know why governments make such a big deal out of holiday displays, with intricate lottery schemes and the like. The government can put up a Nativity scene, it just can’t be the focal point and must be incorporated into a wider holiday display.

    A display with a Christmas tree in the center flanked by a Nativity scene and a menorah would be a perfectly constitutional set-up under the Lynch v. Donnelly and Allegheny County v. ACLU standard.

  • Keulan

    Don’t bother reading the comments on that news article, unless you enjoy seeing Christians whine about how the atheist minority is somehow “persecuting” them by not allowing them to violate the Constitution. The stupid, it burns!

  • Dan davis

     …how the Christians in the area will be able to handle a Nativity Scene
    that doesn’t simultaneously say “screw you” to people of every other
    faith.  Nice!