RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, LIBERTY COUNSEL
ST. BERNARD, OHIO — 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.
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.
Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.