Atheists Join The Religious On The Franklin Co. Courthouse Lawn

Posted On November 30, 2015

By Mike Perleberg


The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Bill of Rights nativity scene and a sign calling religion a myth were erected near the Franklin County Courthouse on Sunday, November 29. Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle Country 99.3.

(Brookville, Ind.) – It’s not just Christianity being represented on the lawn of the Franklin County Courthouse this Christmas season.

Not far from the privately-owned Christian nativity scene that has been on the courthouse lawn in Brookville each Christmas season for the past five decades, there is a sign calling for passers-by to “let reason prevail.”

“There are no gods, no devils, no angles, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds,” the atheistic sign by the Freedom From Religion Foundation states.

The Wisconsin-based FFRF placed the sign along with a Bill of Rights nativity outside the courthouse on Sunday. The FFRF’s Bill of Rights nativity scene is on a flat sign depicting George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and the Statue of Liberty huddled around a manger holding not the baby Jesus, but the Bill of Rights.


Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle Country 99.3.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation had sued Franklin County last December saying only allowing the Christian nativity at the courthouse was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Nation media attention was focused on Franklin County when the lawsuit was first filed.

The lawsuit forced Franklin County Commissioners to adopt a formal application process for courthouse displays. The system set up by the county earlier this year is content-neutral, meaning it allows for all viewpoints to be represented. A member of the FFRF applied and was approved by the county commissioners.

A handful of other religious scenes have joined the competing displays at the courthouse. One is a likeness of the cave in which Jesus Christ’s body was put to rest after his crucifixion, and it is large enough for people to walk inside. Another sign shows a cross as a bridge across the fires of Hell and asks “Are you 50%, 75% or 100% sure of going to Heaven when you die?”

One controversial display that is not yet part of the various viewpoints represented on the courthouse lawn is a satanic display. Franklin County is currently fighting a First Amendment lawsuit against the Satanic Temple over their proposed display for a 19-foot tall goat-headed man called “Baphomet”. The Massachusetts-based organization applied for a courthouse lawn space, but was denied by county commissioners because the application was not made by a Franklin County resident.


Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle Country 99.3.


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