Atheists target Christmas, Hanukkah displays: ‘All we do in December is this kind of thing’

THE WASHINGTON TIMES:

For as long as anyone can remember, a Nativity scene has been displayed during the Christmas season in front of the public library in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, but not this year.

After Americans United for Separation of Church and State dangled the threat of a lawsuit, the borough agreed reluctantly to end the tradition this year. The scene has since found a new home on Main Street outside the Emmaus Moravian Church.

Not everyone was happy about it. Some argued that the display honored the borough’s distinctly Christian roots: Emmaus was founded by the Moravians and named after the biblical town where Jesus was seen by two of his disciplines after his crucifixion and resurrection.

“There were a couple of members of the council who felt strongly,” said borough manager Shane Pepe. “Their emotional response was, ‘Why should we bow down once again to an overly sensitive organization that is looking to sue people?’ But we’re not fighting a legal battle over this.”

For atheist and secular rights groups, the holiday season has become the busiest time of the year as they ring in the winter solstice by taking on public Christmas and Hanukkah displays seen as violating church-state separation.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said her organization has handled hundreds, if not thousands, of such cases over its 40-year history. The foundation now has nine attorneys and two legal assistants on staff.

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