Fla. cities oust nativity scenes from public Christmas holiday displays

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

INVERNESS and BOCA RATON, Fla. - Alliance Defense Fund attorneys sent letters to city officials of Inverness and Boca Raton urging them to restore nativity scenes in Christmas holiday displays. Nativity scenes have traditionally adorned the front of Inverness’s city hall and libraries in Boca Raton, but this year city officials have eliminated them from holiday displays, apparently out of fear of litigation from groups hostile to this nation’s traditions.

"It's ridiculous that people have to think twice about whether it's okay to publicly celebrate Christmas," said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum. "An overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas and are opposed to any kind of censorship of it. However, groups that oppose our nation's traditions have spread misinformation about the constitutionality of Christmas displays. Inverness city officials should not yield to these unfounded and irrational demands to eradicate the celebration of our heritage."

The city of Inverness has altered its tradition of setting up a nativity scene in front of its city hall this year in an apparent attempt to avoid legal liability for erecting a religious display. ADF attorneys assured Inverness officials in a letter that the city's nativity display is perfectly legal and that it should refrain from self-censorship.

In Boca Raton, city officials have specifically omitted nativity scenes at their public libraries, spurring ADF attorneys to send a letter informing them that traditionally including such religious decorations is entirely constitutional

"Banning Christmas displays is clearly out of sync with the beliefs of the American people, common sense, and the Constitution," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. "Eradicating the nativity scene from public library displays sends a hostile message to the more than 90 per cent of Americans who celebrate Christmas. The city of Boca Raton should honor the community instead of appeasing one or two supposedly offended Grinches."

A 2008 Gallup Poll reported that 93 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, and a 2005 Gallup poll reported that 97 percent of Americans say they are not bothered by the public celebration of Christmas.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.