If you have been following the events on the Court House Lawn, you will have observed that December of 2011 was a very controversial and highly contentious episode in the ongoing saga of the Court House lawn displays. Members of Beltway/NOVA once again placed a number of displays on the lawn in response to the annual County-facilitated christian nativity display.
Beltway/NOVA members and friends had permits for 6 of the 9 available spots. There was a great Spaghetti Monster Display, and an Open Letter from Jesus to christians, and one celebrating the Separation of Church and State. Lydia provided a beautiful tree of knowledge. We provided the “Seasons Greetings” display pictured in the Dec. 11 post below. But, the display that caused the most uproar from the local christian community was the Skeleton Santa on a cross, discussed in the Dec.6 post below.
Following the December media circus about the lawn displays, the County has temporarily suspended all displays on the lawn. In January, following the installation of the newly elected, all-republican Board of Supervisors, Rick Wingrove and Larry Mendoza spoke at the monthly Board of Supervisors, urging them to end all displays on the lawn. We also urged them to cease the new practice – since the election of the new board – of opening sessions with christian prayer.
We were accused in the local press of being “threatening”. It is not a threat to warn a child that they are about to burn their fingers – it is useful knowledge that can prevent costly, painful mistakes. We were informing them that continued endorsement of christian displays and opening with sectarian prayer exposed the County to potential litigation. Very expensive litigation which they would probably lose. But, no one wants to file a lawsuit because it would probably cost the County north of $1 million. We would rather they simply honor the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and just stop.
It is our desire to bring the County into voluntary compliance with the Constitution principles of church/state separation. That is why we have used a gentle approach with the County, taking advantage of our legal right to put displays on the lawn. Our displays have been tasteful and attractive, and have not directly attacked any one’s religion, although each and every one of them has been denounced as attacking christianity. We have stayed away from direct criticism, confining our argument to Separation.
We have attempted to do this as cordially as possible, to comply with County rules, and to use free and public access to the Board to express our concerns. Watch the video (sorry, it’s a little hard to hear) and see for yourself.