FFRF wins one in N.C. for separation of state and church


In this holiday season, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has won a victory for reason.

On behalf of a local resident, FFRF recently wrote to the North Carolina town of Butner objecting to a nativity scene in a public park that had been placed there for years around Christmas. It was a large exhibit prominently displayed across from the Butner Town Hall that featured figurines and lights illuminating it at night.

“It is unlawful for the town to maintain, erect or host a holiday display that consists primarily of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to Butner Mayor Vicky Cates. “The Supreme Court has ruled that it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as a focus of display on government property.”

FFRF reminded the town that the display of the manger scene on public land signaled official approval of Christianity, alienating the nearly 30 percent of Americans who are not Christian, including the 23 percent who are nonreligious.

The town took FFRF’s communication seriously.

“Butner Mayor Vicky Cates said she asked the builder of the town’s nativity scene to remove it from public property last week after getting a complaint,” reports a local TV station. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims 500 members statewide, wrote to Cates after being ‘contacted by a concerned resident.'”

The town has sent FFRF an official acknowledgement of the removal of the nativity scene.

The nativity display was moved by the folks who own it to a lot near a local church.

“This is where religious displays belong: There are tax-free churches on every other street corner where crèches can be placed,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We are not against displays of religion — except on governmental property where they convey an unconstitutional message of endorsement.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 25,000 nonreligious members and chapters across the country, including more than 500 and a chapter in North Carolina.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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