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Help FFRF end the Ellwood City saga

The Ellwood City Borough Council (Ellwood City, Pa.) is at it again and we ask you to contact them immediately. On Mon., July 16 at 6 p.m., the Ellwood City Council will vote on a proposal intended to “save” a nativity on government property.

Some council members have proposed a lottery to allow only one display on public property. We need as many FFRF'ers to contact the council as possible to oppose this latest scheme. The council needs to know that the odds for lottery will be heavily in our favor.

Brief Background

You may remember the cross-wielding mob that swarmed Ellwood City last December to prevent the First Amendment from being upheld and the nativity from being removed? There was even a fistfight between a council member and citizen over the nativity removal a few weeks ago.

In December, FFRF sent a letter to Ellwood City protesting an illegal nativity placed for more than 50 years by the city on the lawn of its municipal building. City officials responded that any organization could put up a display, but when FFRF sent our solstice banner, they refused to display it. 

After a few weeks of haggling, the Ellwood City Council agreed to move the nativity to private property. Now that agreement is in jeopardy. The new proposal, set for a vote on Monday, will allow only one display, only during December, and will give preference to locals. This regulation was proposed by the “Nativity Committee,” an official city group dedicated to putting the nativity back on public property.

Problems with the Proposal

There are a number of things wrong with this proposal to bring to the attention of the Ellwood City Council:

1. If Ellwood City goes to a lottery system, atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers will enter the lottery to put up a display of our choosing. You may want to mention what your display will be. This is what happened in Santa Monica, Califronia where the city recently ended December displays in parks after atheists won 18 of the 21 lottery spots. 

2. This is clearly an attempt to renege on their promise to move the nativity to private property. The “Nativity Committee” is quite obviously trying to get the nativity displayed on public property and censor any other speech, especially that of FFRF.

3. Ellwood City cannot escape its history and the statements of its mayor and council members claiming that their only goal is to keep the nativity on public property.

4. Allowing only one display on government property — selective access — does not make the nativity display private speech. Any nativity erected in that spot will still be a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.

5. Our First Amendment right to free speech does not depend on where we live. Ellwood’s scheme to allow preference for locals is likely unconstitutional.

6. There are more than 20 churches within two miles of the municipal building that host the nativity. Many have offered to display the nativity. 

Take Action Now


Please attend the meeting if you can:

Mon., July 16, 2012 at 6 p.m.
525 Lawrence Avenue
Ellwood City, PA 16117

Emails can be routed to the council via the Borough Secretary Linda Pawlowski: . If you can’t attend the meeting, please call the Ellwood City Council at (724) 758-7777 or at the numbers listed below. If you have Facebook please send them a message on Facebook as well.

Council members who want the Nativity on Public Property: Ask the members listed below to stop trying to violate the Constitution and start supporting it. Council Vice President Judith Dici is probably the swing vote and originally voted to remove the nativity. Kindly ask her to vote against the lottery proposal.

Judith Dici, Vice President (email through Borough Secretary, )

Ralph Chiappetta -
George Celli -
John Todorich - (email through Borough Secretary, )

Council members who support FFRF and removal of Nativity: Please thank these members for standing up for the First Amendment and the Constitution. Ask them to continue their support. (Email them through Borough Secretary Linda Pawlowski, .)

Anthony DeCarbo, President 
Marilyn Mancini
Glenn Jones

Or send a letter to:
Ellwood City Council
525 Lawrence Avenue
Ellwood City, PA 16117
Fax: (724) 758-3091

Letters to the Editor: 
Newcastle News
Letter to Editor e-form:

Beaver County Times
Letter to Editor e-form:

Ellwood City Ledger

Thank you for your help! 

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