(Brookville, Ind.) - Franklin County and the Town of Brookville may get free help to keep their nativity scene at the county courthouse.
The nativity scene on the Franklin County
Virginia-based Liberty Counsel has offered pro bono legal support in a letter sent to county commissioners Monday.
According to the organization’s website, Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.
Atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation, out of Wisconsin, is calling the nativity display on the courthouse lawn a violation of the First Amendment. A complaint from the foundation demands the more than 40-year-old nativity display either changed or moved to private property.
Commissioners haven’t decided whether to accept the Liberty Counsel’s offer. Commissioners did meet Tuesday night in a regular meeting. No lawsuit has been filed to this point.
The county attorney has been working to prepare a formal response to the FFRF, but that may not happen until January.
“This is unacceptable,” FFRF attorney Rebecca Markert said this week of the delayed response. “Franklin County cannot continue to disregard the law and allow an unconstitutional religious display to remain standing on the courthouse lawn. The law is clear – solitary displays of religious symbols on government property are unconstitutional.”
“We expect the County to take immediate action to bring the display into conformity with constitutional dictates prior to the end of the holiday season. We ask that your attorney contact us directly to remedy this situation.”
Supporters of the nativity gathered rallied last Saturday. A petition has been circulating through the county garnering almost 1,200 signatures. A Facebook page titled “Save the Nativity” has 1,344 likes.