AHLC Calls for Removal of Texas Courthouse Nativity


For Immediate Release

Contact:

Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(La Grange, TX, Dec. 20, 2016)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center demands that a stand-alone nativity scene displayed on the lawn of the Fayette County Courthouse in La Grange, Texas, be removed immediately.

The nativity display, also called a crèche, depicts the Christian birth of Christ with statues of baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Joseph, as well as other figures typically depicted in nativity scenes. The display does not include any other holiday symbols and is the only decoration in front of the courthouse. The county, which is believed to have purchased the nativity display, has maintained and installed it early in December for at least the past three years. The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to Judge Ed Janecka on behalf of a local resident who objects to the display’s unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity.

“The Fayette County Courthouse’s crèche is sending a divisive message to non-Christians that contradicts the values of tolerance and compassion that everyone should practice during the holiday season and all year round,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The county is wasting taxpayers’ money to maintain an unconstitutional Christian display that signals to non-Christians that they are unwelcome in their own community.”

“The US Supreme Court and numerous lower courts have determined that a Christian crèche on public property is a form of religious endorsement that violates the Establishment Clause,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association. “A Christian display in front of a courthouse gives the impression that Christians are favored citizens, calling into question the ability of non-Christians to receive fair and equal treatment.”

The American Humanist Association demands a response from the Fayette County Courthouse regarding the crèche within seven days. The letter can be viewed here.

Last year, the American Humanist Association prevailed in a lawsuit challenging Baxter County, Arkansas, which was forced to remove a Christian crèche displayed on its courthouse lawn.

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

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