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‘Freedom From Religion’ to Place Controversial ‘Nativity’ Next to Traditional Nativity of Over 50 Years


Per a report by WLWT, a longtime Christmas tradition at an Indiana courthouse will be having a new look this Christmas.

On Sunday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation will add the Bill of Rights Nativity, which features George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Lady Liberty with the Bill of Rights in a manger at the Franklin County Courthouse.

“While we prefer that no displays go up, they’ve opened up the courthouse grounds for displays for multiple people,” said the foundation’s attorney Sam Grover. “That’s the only other way they can legally continue to allow the nativity scene on its property.”

In 2011, a county resident complained that the religious display was on government property instead of private, citing it infringes upon the separation of church and state. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in December 2014 arguing the display violates the First Amendment because it “represents an endorsement of religion and has the principal effect of advancing religion.”

As a response to the lawsuit, Franklin County Commissioners wrote an ordinance allowing several displays, religious or not, on the courthouse lawn. Anyone willing to put up a display on the lawn must apply for a permit and the applications will be approved, regardless of what message the display promotes. The county has approved nine displays so far this year.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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