For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Gulfport, MS, Dec. 15, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center intends to file a lawsuit on behalf of local citizens in Gulfport, Mississippi, against Harrison County for refusing to remove an unconstitutional nativity scene from its courthouse.
“Public nativity displays such as this one violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association. “It is not the place of government to endorse one particular religion, or religion over non-religion, and that’s precisely what this Christian display does.”
The American Humanist Association sent a warning to Harrison County officials on December 9, stating that the courthouse nativity, also known as a crèche, depicting the New Testament birth of Jesus demonstrated government preference toward Christianity. Yesterday, despite the American Humanist Association’s demands that the crèche be removed, the Sun Herald reported that the Harrison County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to keep the nativity display in the courthouse.
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said, “The Harrison County Board of Supervisors had an opportunity here to act on the concerns of a constituent and increase their inclusiveness. It’s disappointing that they chose to not recognize the diversity of beliefs and waste taxpayers’ money fighting to keep a sectarian display that violates the law.”
This year, the American Humanist Association prevailed in a lawsuit against Baxter County, Arkansas, which displayed a similar crèche on its courthouse property, which was found by the U.S. District Court in Arkansas to be unconstitutional.
The American Humanist Association’s warning letter to Harrison County officials 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.