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AHA: Arkansas County Must Remove Christian Nativity Scene from Government Property

Baxter County Has Long History of Erecting Christian-Only Displays on Courthouse Grounds

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Maggie Ardiente, mardiente@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x116
David Niose, dniose@americanhumanist.org 202-238-9088

(Washington, DC, Jan. 2, 2014) — A persistent history of placing a Christian nativity scene on the lawn of the Baxter County, Arkansas courthouse is being challenged as unconstitutional by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. Representing a county resident, the legal center sent a letter yesterday to county officials demanding “that the county promptly remove it and provide assurances that no similar display will be erected in the future.”

The north central Arkansas county has been placing exclusive Christian nativity scenes on the courthouse property in Mountain Home, AR for approximately 15 years. Making clear that the use of government property for exclusive religious displays violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the letter includes a photograph of the display showing “a level of authenticity that would impress any Christian congregation.”

“This kind of display was determined to be unconstitutional by the U.S. legal system a long time ago,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney Monica Miller. “I hope that local officials will act appropriately and remove the display and promise to not bring it back as an exclusive government religious display.”

The letter asks for a reply by Jan. 10, 2014.

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.