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Published On: Sat, Dec 17th, 2016

Freedom From Religion group attacks Ohio nativity, free speech

Liberty Counsel countered an atheist group and has offered to provide pro bono assistance to the city of St. Bernard against a demand from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which wrongfully claims that a Nativity display be removed from the lawn of the City Hall.
The FFRF’s misleading and inaccurate letter states, “The display stands alone on the lawn and depicts the biblical story of the birth of Jesus.” However, St. Bernard’s holiday décor is constitutional since the Nativity scene is surrounded by secular holiday symbols, including lit Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and a sleigh with reindeer.

photo supplied Polk County Sheriff’s office

In addition, the FFRF fails to mention two binding Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions upholding the constitutionality of other Nativity scenes as part of municipal Christmas decorations. In particular, the 2013 case, where the FFRF was defeated (Freedom from Religion Found., Inc. v. City of Warren, Michigan) after demanding that its sign stating “religion is but myth and superstition” be included next to the Nativity scene. Since St. Bernard’s display, which the city has displayed every year for decades, is constitutional “government speech,” it does not need to open up the display to other organizations like FFRF, as set forth in City of Warren.

“The so-called Freedom From Religion atheist group has lost this battle of a Nativity scene and they will lose again,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Publically-sponsored Nativity scenes on public property are constitutional, especially when the display includes other secular symbols of the holiday, as this one does. The St. Bernard Nativity scene is constitutional. We stand by the city and offer our free legal counsel and defense,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel has launched its fourteenth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, pledging to be a “Friend” to those who recognize Christmas and a “Foe” to those who censor it. The campaign educates, and if necessary litigates, to make sure that Christmas and Christian themes are not censored. Liberty Counsel provides a memorandum to offer guidance regarding publicly and privately sponsored religious holiday displays, religious holidays in public schools, and the rights of public school students in the context of religious holidays. An updated Naughty & Nice List is also available, that catalogues retailers that recognize and those that censor Christmas.
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  1. Craig Reynolds says:

    Suggest that dutiful readers consult the “Naughty and Nice List” provided by the American Family Association in addition to that of the Liberty Counsel and then make a determination – if any is possible after comparing these two religious bulls.

  2. RusselsTeaPot says:

    It is misleading and inaccurate to claim that a little secular tinsel justifies a violation of The Establishment Clause. If this isn’t made an open religious forum for all (Jews, Hindu, Satanists, etc.) then this is an endorsement of Christianity, which is a 1st Amendment violation.

    • Brandon Jones says:

      A nativity scene is NOT a violation of the Establishment Clause and the inclusion of other holiday celebrations is EXACTLY what the freedom of religion and expression are for to make America great.

      What can we add for you?

      • RusselsTeaPot says:

        A nativity scene on private property isn’t a violation of The Establishment Clause.

        A nativity scene being installed on public property without any option for equal treatment to other religions is a violation of The Establishment Clause.

        • Brandon Jones says:

          They are giving equal treatment and should

          • RussellsTeaPot says:

            Permit The FFRF and/or Satanic Temple to install their displays. Adding some reindeer and candy canes doesn’t make this an open forum.

          • Brandon Jones says:

            Hey, I’m all for the Satanic Temple to put up their display next to the Festivus pole and Spaghetti Monster….with THREE rules:

            1. All must be paid for with private money, not tax payer funds
            2. All displays must indicate who paid for the display.
            3. All displays must be sponsored by a citizen in that community and it must be made clear on the display. No more shall a group in New York buy a display in Oklahoma.

            These rules would apply to nativity scenes as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu displays or otherwise. FREEDOM OF AMERICA!!!

            You live the greatest country, where you are FREE TO BE OFFENDED because we allow the open display of religion. “Freedom from religion” is the most disgusting concept because it’s just a fancy name for a group who wants to ATTACK and SILENCE religion, religious speech and expression.

            I will stand with you to get your free speech recognized, but NOT at the expense of another.

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