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Atheist Group Sues Franklin County Over Courthouse Nativity Display

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It’s become almost as much of a holiday tradition as chestnuts roasting on an open fire: a court battle over where a nativity display may be erected.

In Southeast Indiana’s Franklin County, such a display on the county courthouse lawn has prompted the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation, in cooperation with the ACLU of Indiana, to sue the county.

County commissioners president Tom Wilson says the plaintiffs are late to the party, as it’s a display that’s gone up for the last 60 years.

Regardless of who puts up the Christian display, the foundation claims it can‘t be on government property unless displays representing other religions are also there. Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor says the county at least needs to have other displays on the lawn.

Wilson says no other religious groups have asked to put up a display, and if they did, the county would let them.

Similar kerfuffles crop up every holiday season around the country. A group protested a holiday display in the Florida state capitol building last year by putting up a pole made from beer cans to commemorate Festivus, a fake holiday created for the television show Seinfeld.