FFRF defends Delaware city’s decision prohibiting Nativity scene on public property


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is defending the city of Rehoboth Beach, Del., for its decision to uphold the constitutional principle of the separation between state and church by prohibiting a church from placing a Nativity scene on public property.

In order to avoid the appearance of endorsing religion, the city reportedly decided in 2018 that it would no longer allow Saint Edmond’s Church to place a Nativity scene on city property. The city even agreed to work with the church to find a private location where the scene could be displayed without city endorsement. Despite this generous compromise, FFRF understands that a local division of the Knights of Columbus has now threatened to sue the city if it does not allow the church to display a Nativity scene on city property.

FFRF has sent a letter to Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns commending the city on how it has handled this situation and for protecting the rights of all its citizens. Not only is the city’s decision legally sound, FFRF points out, it is the best way for the city to ensure that each and every one of its citizens feels they are welcome in their community.

“The city is well within its rights to prohibit private unattended displays,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to the mayor. “While the city cannot host a public forum and deny equal access to certain groups because of the content of their display, the city can host its own holiday display as long as that display does not endorse religion.”

FFRF thanks the city of Rehoboth Beach for making a fair and reasonable decision that respects the right of conscience of all citizens.

“Nativity scenes on public property are not only unconstitutional, they are unnecessarily divisive,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Holiday season or no holiday season, a government entity has no business endorsing a sectarian creed.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members and several chapters across the country, including members and a chapter in Delaware. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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