An atheist group has demanded the removal of a nativity scene displayed in front of the city hall of a Cincinnati suburb.
Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded the removal of the nativity scene from St. Bernard’s city hall, claiming that it violates the U.S. Constitution and is indicative of government sponsorship of religion.
“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the City of St. Bernard to sponsor a nativity scene because it conveys a preference by the city for religion over nonreligion and for Christianity above all other faiths,” FFRF wrote in its letter to the city.
“When a gov’t entity like St. Bernard chooses to display a message celebrating the birth of Jesus, it places the imprimatur of the city behind Christian religious doctrine. This excludes citizens who are not Christian-- Jews, Muslims, Native American religious practitioners, etc-- as well as atheists and others who choose not to practice any religion,” it continued.
Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel Matt Staver, however, maintains that the display is constitutional because it includes both secular and non-secular holiday symbols, the constitutionality of which has been upheld in previous nativity scene cases.
"Publically-sponsored Nativity scenes on public property are constitutional, especially when the display includes other secular symbols of the holiday, as this one does. The St. Bernard Nativity scene is constitutional. We stand by the city and offer our free legal counsel and defense," Staver said, according to Christian News Wire.