The Freedom From Religion Foundation is objecting to a large nativity scene on an Ohio courthouse.
A concerned local resident contacted FFRF to report that the Hocking County Municipal Courthouse has a large nativity scene on the side of its building. The resident reports that the nativity is depicted through a scene made of lights and green garland on the facade of the courthouse. This display reportedly goes up each year after Thanksgiving.
FFRF initially addressed this complaint last year with a letter to the Hocking County Clerk and was told the county commissioners have jurisdiction over the building. This year, when the display went up again, FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert sent a second letter of complaint, this time to President of Hocking County Commissioners Jeff Dickerson.
“It is unlawful for Hocking County to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing, religion,” Markert writes in the letter. “The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a display on government property.”
FFRF is requesting that Hocking County remove this nativity scene from its courthouse building and cease placing religious iconography on public property.
“There are ample private and church grounds where religious displays may be freely placed,” Markert continues. “Once the government enters into the religion business, conferring endorsement and preference for one religion over others, it strikes a blow at religious liberty, forcing taxpayers of all faiths and of no religion to support a particular expression of worship.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 700 members in Ohio and a chapter in Cleveland. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.