Religion

Two Organizations Suing Franklin County Over Nativity Scene

| by Arthur Kogan
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The Satanic Temple will be joining the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation in an ongoing lawsuit against Franklin County, Indiana over a Christian Nativity scene that has been a community tradition for over half a century.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the lawsuit on March 24 after being denied the right to display its own exhibit, promoting the Bill of Rights outside of the Franklin County Courthouse. The Satanic Temple claims it was also denied a similar request to the FFRF and will be joining the organization in legal efforts.

According to The Indy Channel, both organizations will be challenging the ordinance that declared the lawn to be "the people's lawn.” The ordinance “restricts permits for displays and activities on the lawn to county residents.”

The Washington Post explain that the Freedom From Religion Foundation were denied a request to display “several cut-out figures celebrating the December 15th nativity of the Bill of Rights.” The Satanic Temple was denied a request to display “an artistic three-dimensional sculpture mounted on a wooden platform” outside of the courthouse. Both organizations applied for permission to display their exhibits approximately one month after the new ordinance was passed.

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Doug Mesner, Satanic Temple spokesman, added that although he understands that the applications were denied due to the ordinance’s residency requirement and not the content of the exhibit, he feels that the residency restriction itself is an unacceptable requirement.

“Our joint lawsuit with the FFRF is our response to this arbitrary limitation,” Mesner said in an e-mail. “I suspect that the arbitrary restriction of local standing is merely but an effort at keeping varying viewpoints to a minimum.”

Franklin County and the courthouse have been sued in the past after accusations and claims that county officials endorse and promote Christianity over other religions by displaying the Nativity scene every holiday season on the lawn, just as they have for over 50 years.

Sources: The Indy Channel, The Washington Post             Photo Source: Wikipedia