Humanist Group Wants Nativity Scene Removed

Every year around the holidays, the Gulfport Courthouse displays a nativity scene near its front entrance. A group is working to change that.
If you walk through the doors of the Gulfport Courthouse, you’ll see a nativity scene with all of the traditional pieces, such as baby Jesus and the three wise men. Harrison County Attorney Tim Holleman said, “It’s a display that county employees paid for. They set it up on their own time, practicing their faith.”
A certain group wants all of that to change. After receiving a call from a bothered citizen, the Washington D.C. based American Humanist Association sent a letter to the Gulfport Courthouse demanding the display be permanently removed. Officials with the American Humanist Association state that when a government endorses one religion over all overs, it tells people of minority faiths and of no faith that they are unwelcome in their own community.
One of the first to read the letter was Holleman. “I realize government is generally not supposed to be in a position one way or another. But in this case, the government is not in the position, these were individual employees who put this display up of their own accord.”
Other Christmas decorations fill the courthouse lobby as well, directly behind the nativity scene sits a fully decorated Christmas tree and a just a couple of feet away, two large candy canes. Harrison County District 1 Supervisor Windy Swetman said, “Here in South Mississippi we live in a faith community that we’re very proud of. We’re certainly not going to take Christ out of Christmas. My belief is that there should be more nativity scenes.”
This is the first time the courthouse has received any type of complaint about the display. “The courthouse is a public building. Anyone who wanted to display their religious belief is permitted to do so,” said Holleman.
The AHA asked for a response to the letter within the next seven days. The Harrison County Board of Supervisors will discuss the letter in detail during their meeting on Monday.
Congressman Steven Palazzo released a statement responding to the AHA’s request to remove the display. He stated: “The association imposing on this community’s holiday traditions from a thousand miles away should be ashamed. Their allegations are not only ridiculous but also violate our constitutional right to express our faith. I stand with Harrison County during this Christmas season and remain committed to protecting the religious liberties of our country.”

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