Skip to main content

Federal Appeals Court Rules After Atheist Offended by Nativity at Indiana Courthouse

Share This article

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.

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit religious liberty law firm, represented Jackson County in a case involving a long-standing public nativity display. 

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.

***As certain voices are censored and free speech platforms shut down, be sure to sign up for CBN News emails and the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving news from a Christian Perspective.***

Share This article

About The Author

Andrea Morris

Andrea Morris is a Features Producer for The 700 Club. She came to CBN in 2019 where she worked as a web producer in the news department for three years. Her passion was always to tell human interest stories that would touch the hearts of readers while connecting them with God. She transitioned into her new role with The 700 Club in August 2022.