Atheist Group's Nativity Complaint Backfires
Brittany M. Hughes reports at CNSNew.com:
When the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) went after a city council in Jay, Fla., for displaying a nativity set on public property, the atheist group might have won a battle, but seems to have lost the war.
The FFRF, known for protesting any and all religious displays in public places, sent a complaint letter recently to local officials in the 526-person city of Jay, arguing against the life-sized nativity that had been set up on the site every Christmas for nearly 40 years, the group said in a press release.
In a letter sent to the city’s mayor, FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel alleged, "It is unlawful for the town 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." He added there are "ample private and church grounds where religious displays may be freely placed."
"In response to the group’s complaints, the city council declared the nativity set surplus property and sold it to the Santa Rosa County Ministerial Association, thus removing it from public property," according to CNSNews.
This move appeared to please FFRF co-president Dan Barker, who "praised the city council’s decision as 'divesting the town of a divisive display'," CNSNews reports.
"But the town has not been deprived of the nativity, reports the American Pastors Network [APN]. In fact, after the ministerial association purchased the nativity, they then placed the huge Christian display on private property near one of the busiest parts of the small town, reports the American Pastors Network," according to CNSNews.
The Nativity scene "now stands at a busy corner at the town’s main stop light -- ironic, say nativity supporters, because many more people will see it there," CNSNews quotes APN as stating in a press release.
"Anyone who actually takes time to study our nation’s history and read the writings of our founders -- not the interpretations of those writings written two hundred years later -- knows that religious liberty and the acknowledgement of Almighty God as the source of that liberty are the bulwark of our nation," CNSNews quotes President Sam Rohrer as saying in the press statement.
"Threats like these against towns that want to display nativities are a blatant attack on our God-given and constitutionally protected freedoms," Rohrer states.
"Groups like FFRF base their arguments on the sound bite of 'separation of church and state,' but again, history proves these arguments wrong, as Thomas Jefferson’s famous 'wall' was in response to the sincere concerns of the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut that religious freedom might be considered a favor granted by government rather than an inalienable right given by God," Rohrer states, according to Hamilton Strategies.
"FFRF would do well to remember that Jefferson himself attended congressionally approved church services held in the U.S. Capitol building itself -- the seat of American government," Rohrer advises.
"The truth remains that public displays of the nativity scene on government property in no way violate the Constitution. FFRF's attempts to stifle religious liberty, however, do."