A nativity scene at Jay City Hall in Jay, Florida has been removed after the Freedom From Religion Foundation called it “unlawful” and threatened legal action against the city.
According to Weartv.com, the organization became aware of the nativity scene after receiving a complaint from a Jay resident.
“It is our understanding that the town of Jay owns and erects a nativity in front of Jay City Hall. We understand that the nativity is the lone holiday display,” Freedom From Religion attorney Andrew Seidel said in a statement obtained by Northescambia.com. “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.”
Seidel said that putting up a nativity scene at a city hall “tells nonbelievers and non-Christians that they are outsiders in their community, that they are excluded” and “it strikes a blow at religious liberty, forcing taxpayers of all faiths and of no religion to support a particular expression of worship.”
Jay Mayor Kurvin Qualls told Weartv.com that the town ultimately decided to move the nativity scene after being advised to avoid a legal battle, as it would likely cost upwards of $100,000. The display has been moved to a downtown location, which Quall said would make it “more visible to the public than it was right here at city hall.” Quall also said that the town has “been very supportive in understanding that there is a reason we moved it from City Hall to downtown.”
This year is reportedly the first in 40 years that there has not been a nativity scene on display at Jay City Hall.