(Brookville, Ind.) - Franklin County won’t give in easily to a Christmas controversy.
The nativity in Brookville at the center of a
First Amendment controversy.
photo provided by Darrell Smith -
Eagle 99.3 first told you about the story Wednesday.
The Wisconsin-based atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation has demanded a nativity scene outside the courthouse in Brookville be removed citing the First Amendment.
“It is unlawful for a government body to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion. The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a display on government property,” the foundation’s attorney wrote in a letter to Franklin County Commissioners and Brookville Town Council.
Commissioner Tom Wilson says the display has been appearing at the courthouse for more than 40 years and has never brought a complaint before. It is put up by the Brookville Fire Department.
“We’ve had phone calls from everyone, churches,” said Wilson adding that residents are outraged.
As of Thursday, Franklin County Attorney Michael Wilhelm had not sent a requested response to the FFRF as he continues to research the case.
Wilson says the nativity will likely stay up through this year, but next year may be a different story.
“For right now we’re going to stand fast and call their bluff. Government works slow and by the time we get around to making a decision on this I’m sure it’ll be after the first of the year,” he said.
The FFRF pointed out in their letter to the county that the nativity stay may be able to stay if it was accompanied by other non-secular decorations – candy canes, gingerbread men, Santa Claus – nearby. Some lighted reindeer are on display across the lawn.
“If we have to we’ll do something to keep our nativity scene,” said Wilson.
Churches from around the county are planning a rally at the courthouse nativity this Saturday, Dec. 11 at 1:00 p.m.
“I bet there are 40 or 50 churches that plan on showing up in support of our nativity scene and our rights and Christian values,” Wilson said.