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Atheists Join The Religious On The Franklin Co. Courthouse Lawn

Posted On November 30, 2015

By Mike Perleberg

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle Country 99.3.

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