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Lead Us Not Into Penn Station:Provocative Pieces

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October 7-9, 2016

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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

A Kentucky town will stop displaying an overtly religious nativity scene in response to a Freedom From Religion Foundation objection.

FFRF had notified the city of Walton a number of times that a Christmas nativity panorama on the City Hall lawn was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

"It is unlawful for the city to maintain, erect or host a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for and endorsing one religion," FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote to Walton Mayor Mark Carnahan last December. "The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a display on government property." 

After the December letter and a follow-up in April, FFRF has finally gotten an assurance that the town would take heed of the Constitution.

"I have discussed the legal issues raised in your correspondence dated Dec. 23, 2015, with Mayor Carnahan and advised him accordingly," Walton City Attorney Timothy Noyes wrote back to Jayne. "Based on that advice, the mayor indicated that future Christmas displays on city property, if any, will give due deference to existing law concerning separation of church and state." 

FFRF will keep an eye on whether the city follows through on its promise.

"The city of Walton must make good on its assurance from this year onward," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Once the government confers endorsement for one religion over others, it strikes a blow at religious liberty, forcing taxpayers of all faiths and of no religion to support a particular expression of worship."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 23,700 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 100 in Kentucky.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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