For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to officials of Cherokee County, Texas, on behalf of a local citizen and Humanist celebrant objecting to the display of an exclusively Christian nativity scene on the lawn of the County Courthouse in Rusk, Texas.
According to the letter, the County has prominently showcased a life-sized Christian nativity scene that represents the New Testament account of the birth of Jesus. On November 14, a citizen of the County emailed the County Judge and County Commissioners to request permission to include a display of the Humanist HumanLight or Happy Humanist symbols alongside the crèche because he feels that the County’s Christian display is unwelcoming toward non-Christians and individuals with no religion. HumanLight is a secular holiday, observed on December 23, which celebrates the positive, secular human values of reason, compassion, humanity and hope. On November 19, he received a response from a Commissioner, through her government email address, who rejected his request, saying he was “attempting to infiltrate the Christmas holiday” and accusing him of “trying to destroy and denigrate” Christian beliefs.
“It is very troubling that a request for inclusion was met with hostility and accusations,” said the American Humanist Association’s legal director David Niose. “This appears to be a textbook example of a local official who believes Christianity deserves special status from the government. We’ve got news for her: it doesn’t.”
“The exclusively Christian standalone nativity scene displayed on the courthouse lawn amounts to a monument to Christianity that conveys the unmistakable message of governmental endorsement of religion, and Christianity specifically, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “It also discriminates against individuals in the community who are members of religious minorities or who have no religion,” she added.
The letter demands that the Christian crèche be removed from the County Courthouse lawn immediately.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., 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.