Federal Appeals Court Rules After Atheist Offended by Nativity at Indiana Courthouse
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The legal battle over a Nativity scene in Indiana was settled on Tuesday with a victory for the Christian community after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the display is constitutional and can be exhibited.
Victory for Indiana Nativity Scene!— Liberty Counsel (@libertycounsel) February 2, 2021
The plaintiff apparently “manufactured” her injury by going to the courthouse for the purpose of seeing the display after living in Jackson County for two years without noticing it.https://t.co/L3B79awjxw pic.twitter.com/iTkCeuNDt4
Rebecca Woodring, who originally sued the county in December 2018, claimed: "the whole display, including the secular items, offends her because it is all part of the Christmas and the whole, you know, Christianity thing."
Last May, Federal Judge Tanya Pratt concluded that the Nativity display on public property at the Jackson County courthouse was unconstitutional and ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Rebecca Woodring.
Woodring, an atheist, does not live or work in Jackson County and does not conduct any business in the courthouse, yet she was offended by the display.
Now the appeals court said the Nativity scene "is Constitutional because it fits within a long national tradition of using the Nativity scene in broader holiday displays to celebrate the origins of Christmas - a public holiday."
In addition to the Nativity, the display includes lighted figures of Santa Claus, a sleigh, and a reindeer.
Liberty Counsel's Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, "This is a great victory that affirms that the Jackson County holiday display does not violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court and many federal courts have ruled such displays are constitutional, especially when the display includes other secular symbols of the holiday, and this display in Jackson County is no exception."
The Nativity scene belongs to the Brownstown Ministerial Association and is cared for by the Brownstown Lions Club. It has decorated the courthouse lawn nearly every Christmas season since 2003.
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