After Their Nativity Display Came Under Attack, City Finds Creative Way To Fight Back

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a group that promotes the separation of church and state, recently found itself at odds with the town of Jay, Florida. 

The city of Jay, which has 526 residents, had an annual Christmas display that prominently featured a Nativity scene in front of city hall. In a letter dated Dec. 4, Andrew Seidel, a staff attorney for FFRF addressed the mayor of Jay, Kurvin Qualls, about the display.

Seidel slammed the display as an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state since the nativity scene was on public land.

“It is our understanding that the town of Jay owns and erects a nativity in front of Jay City Hall,” the letter reads in part. "We understand that the nativity is the lone holiday display."

The letter continues: “It is unlawful for the town to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion. The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a display on government property.”

Though it’s unquestionable that the city of Jay acted in a way that has been deemed illegal in earlier court cases, the government had the last laugh. The American Pastors Network (APN) bought the land the nativity was on and then placed the display on private property near one of the busiest parts of town. 

CNS News wrote that a press release from the APN said FFRF was violating freedom of religion principles, but they seemed happy with their actions anyway: “[The nativity scene] now stands at a busy corner at the town’s main stop light—ironic, say nativity supporters, because many more people will see it there.”

Sources: CNS News, Freedom From Religion Foundation / Image via Freedom From Religion Foundation