The Freedom From Religion Foundation has something new to celebrate this holiday season. FFRF's Winter Solstice banner will have a place in the Gladwin (Mich.) County holiday display on Friday, Dec. 23.
The banner will be erected Friday by a local FFRF'er and stationed near the Veteran's Memorial.
The decision to include the freethought display was a direct result of a Dec. 6 ultimatum issued by FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt. She advised the county to either remove the unconstitutional Christian nativity from county property or open the grounds to any group wishing to place a holiday display.
For over a year FFRF had been sending letters of complaint to the Gladwin County Board of District Commissioners to no avail. Michigan-area residents, taxpayers and FFRF members took issue both this year and last with the unlawful nativity scene displayed prominently on government property.
After submitting a final letter of objection and open records request in 2010, the holiday season came to a close before any change could be implemented. It wasn't until this year that FFRF learned of the impact it had on the county.
FFRF's 2010 letter prompted the county board to review its administrative polices on the use of government property for a public display. Gladwin County Attorney Douglas Jacobson noted in a Dec. 12, 2011 letter that they adopted an actual policy. The county had previously allowed the Ministerial Association to erect a holiday display, but refused to open the door to any alternate groups, and has now opened up a true public forum.