KY3 runs a very slanted report on Baxter County nativity scene. Lori Gregory doesn’t understand Law or Civics.

KY3 in Springfield, MO did a horribly slanted piece about the nativity scene on the Baxter County Courthouse lawn.  It opens with Lori Gregory who owns a local jewelry store.

“In my opinion, this nation was founded as one nation under God and so I don’t think we have to make any apologies for the nativity scene being on the courthouse square.  I don’t see how one person decides it shouldn’t be there, and so it shouldn’t be there,” Gregory said.

She holds it dear to her heart, and you’d be hard pressed finding many people in the area who don’t.

Lori is simply wrong.  The nation was founded upon religious freedom.  Americans fought a war so they could establish a nation without a national church (like the Church of England) so that everybody could worship as they pleased.

One person did not decide it shouldn’t be there.  That was the Constitution and decades of jurisprudence by Christian judges who handed down their rulings in allegiance to the first amendment in spite of their personal beliefs.  If one person points out a breach of the law by our elected officials, it carries as much weight as 1,000,000 people reporting the violation.  Individuals are protected by the Constitution just as much as groups.

Mrs. Gregory “doesn’t see” how this works because she apparently thinks popular opinion trumps the law.  It doesn’t.  If one person’s rights are violated, it doesn’t matter if the whole town approves.  That’s why they’re called “rights”.

“It’s what the public overwhelmingly wants to be done,” explained Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass.  He was shocked to get a letter from the Appignani Humanist Legal Center in Washington, D.C., stating the creche crosses the legal line of government endorsing religion, even though it has Santa Claus and the like, and some other non-religious symbols deemed okay to display.

“They just threatened it that there would be litigation, if we didn’t remove it or if we put it back up next year,” the judge said.

It doesn’t matter if every Christian in Mountain Home wants you, Mr. Pendergrass, an elected official, to break the law on behalf of their religion.  Your job, especially as a judge, is to ensure that all citizens are represented equally.  You failed when you gave space to Christians but denied it to others.

“We have had plenty of offers to defend us to whatever extent, if need be, at no cost,” said Judge Pendergrass.

Yes, the county will be defended at no cost.  But what is being obscured here is that the county will not lose at no cost.  While the county can get free representation, if the county loses then the county will have to pay the legal costs of AHA.  Look up Ahlquist v. City of Cranston which was defended by The Becket Fund (like the ACLJ) for free, but had to pay ACLU fees of $174,000.00 when the city lost (and this was at a tremendous discount graciously given by the ACLU).  If the Baxter County case is litigated and the county loses, it will be very costly to the taxpayers.

And be it at the courthouse, or elsewhere, you’ll likely see it again.

“If the nativity has to move off the courthouse lawn, they can move it on the top of my building as far as I’m concerned,” said Gregory.

FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!  Put it there.  That’s private property and nobody will give a single solitary shit.  Put it on top of your building.  Go nuts.

The letter from the group’s office that is threatening this lawsuit says that they are writing on behalf of one Baxter County resident who remains unnamed in the letter.  KY3 reporter Sara Forhetz believes she found out who it is.  She called him, and he did not want his name released, and would not go on camera.

No shit?  Maybe it’s because of stuff like this.  In the case of Jessica Ahlquist (and any other time Christian privilege has been challenged in the public square) we saw the degree to which Christians, true blue believers in Christ, are willing to harass someone in order to win (because winning in court was never going to happen there, so intimidation, threats, and maliciousness until she quit were all that remained).  And this was to a teenager, a teenager who wound up having to attend class with a police escort to protect her from Christians.  The cruelty of Christians when a person asks the government to represent everybody equally is as certain as death and taxes.  Of course the person who complained in Baxter County wants to remain anonymous so that they will be protected from harassment by Christians, and I don’t see how anybody can blame them.

That says a lot about Christians as well as about Christianity as a moralizing influence.

The theme emerging from this story and others is that “just one person complained”.  Even if true, that doesn’t matter.  If an elected official violates the rights of an individual, that individual is protected just as much as if the rights of thousands were violated.  And the rights of thousands have been violated.  Every American has the right to a government that represents all its citizens equally, to a government that protects the freedom of religion by keeping itself neutral in religious affairs (were Christians the minority, they would realize the value of this protection).  Judge Mickey Pendergrass violated their rights, and that fact stands regardless of how many people are selfishly willing to sacrifice the liberty of others in exchange for their religion getting a leg up.

If you want to balance out some of the lunacy in the comments, go here.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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