A federal judge ruled against an Arkansas Courthouse Thursday in a suit over a nativity scene on public property.
U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks said Baxter County must either remove the nativity or “create a public forum on the courthouse grounds for a seasonal display open to persons of all faiths as well as of no faith at all, without discrimination on the basis of viewpoint.”
The lawsuit began when the American Humanist Association filed suit in December of 2014. A private resident had put the nativity on the public property, but locals in 2013 had been denied when they asked to put a “Happy Solstice” sign near the nativity, so the lawsuit called that a double standard.
“This is a victory for the First Amendment and ensures that the government does not promote one religion over another, or religion over non-religion,” Monica Miller, said in a statement.
This isn’t the first and won’t be the last nativity scene dispute this season. Wadena, Minnesota’s city council voted to remove their nativity after the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue.
“Nativity scenes are only appropriate for private property,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “When the government allows a holiday display that represents just one faith, it implies endorsement of that faith, excluding all others, regardless of what they believe.”
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