In Loudoun County VA, in the Fall of 2009, the grounds committee for the Board of Supervisors recommended that the county discontinue the practice of hosting Holiday displays on the Court House lawn. The recommendation was made in order to limit traffic on the lawn in order to protect the lawn and the old trees.
Naturally, the christian community chose to treat this recommendation as an assault on christianity, on christmas, on free speech, and on America.
The Board of Supervisors, rather than displaying an ounce of insight or courage, immediately surrendered their principles and yielded to an outraged contingent of local christianists. But then, fearing a lawsuit, they sought legal advice from the ACLU, who advised them that if they let anyone on the Court House lawn, they had to let everyone on the Court House lawn.
This is when I got involved and put up a display in Dec. ’09. Naturally, the christians were outraged. It seems they really only like their own speech to be free, but, for Atheists, not so much.
The Board of Supervisors revisited the issue in September of 2010 and decided to continue with the displays, but limited to 10 displays, in designated locations, on a first come, first served basis. This year 6 of the 10 spots were taken by atheists. As you can imagine, the resistance and the controversy ramped up and spilled onto every local TV station, radio talk show, and newspapers – including the Washington Post – where hundreds of comments were posted.
In 2009, Loudoun County Virginia, about 35 miles west of Washington DC, attempted to end the practice of hosting Christmas displays on the Court House lawn. This was done to preserve the historic lawn and protect the old trees. The local christian community chose to respond to the proposal as a vicious attack on christians, the Constitution, free speech and all that is good and pure and patriotic.
As you would expect, Atheists were publicly trashed by some very angry local christians who gleefully reminded us of our looming future of eternal fiery agony. But, there was also a surprising amount of support from some surprising sources, from an energized local atheist community, to a catholic priest, to an ancient and frail woman who may have actually dated Thomas Jefferson and who staunchly stood up for Separation.
Nevertheless, the battle continues in the local papers. Below is my LTE in response to a pair of local god-believers, writing to the Leesburg (VA) Times Mirror.
An Atheists View of the Court House Displays
Source: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/LoudounTimes/ January 5, 2011 – Page A13