Humanist Group Drops Lawsuit Against Harrison County

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The American Humanists Association will not sue Harrison County over the nativity scene at the courthouse in Gulfport.
The AHA’s executive director says the group decided to back off its threat to sue after county officials included a local humanist group’s holiday display to stand alongside the county’s traditional nativity scene.
After much controversy, the American Humanist Association has made the decision to drop the lawsuit against Harrison County over the nativity scene. The decision came after Harrison County officials agreed to let the AHA put up a holiday display of its own directly beside the nativity scene. District 1 Supervisor Windy Swetman said, “We respect all of our community with what their beliefs are. But we just weren’t going to discriminate against Christians because the humanist group did not believe that.”
The AHA display reads “Happy holidays from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Humanist, Atheist and Freethinker Association.” AHA Legal Director David Niose said, “It went up without a hitch. There were no problems. Everyone was very cooperative. It looks like everything is okay.”
But some local residents feel putting up another display inside the courthouse may not have been the best solution. Resident Karibbean Jackson said, “Should people come protest this sign? They wanted people to protest this. You understand what I’m saying? You can’t do one thing and expect another outcome and it’s all the same thing.”
City officials tell News 25 they want the courthouse lobby to be viewed as a reminder of the joy the holidays can bring rather than a religious competition. “And if anything this has done by the humanist group, is it energized Christians in South Mississippi who came to call to protect their rights as Christians.”
The AHA stated it will continue to monitor the display to ensure Harrison County officials uphold the First Amendment. “In my opinion, I would take all of it down and then you satisfy everyone. No one would have a reason to argue. No one would have a reason to sue. Your display is not up, mine isn’t up either,” said Jackson.