A Small Iowa Town Is Divided Over a Nativity Scene

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Posted: Dec 24, 2019 5:00 PM
A Small Iowa Town Is Divided Over a Nativity Scene

Source: AP Photo/Claude Paris

Residents in Centerville, Iowa are divided over whether or not a Nativity scene should be placed on the county courthouse lawn.

A few local churches came together to purchase the Nativity scene, which was originally placed at the Appanoose County Courthouse shortly before Thanksgiving. Some residents, however, took issue with the religious display being put on government property. 

Following complaints, the city had volunteers move the display a couple blocks away, which took place on December 9th. But now, some residents want the Nativity scene to return to its original location. 

Solid Rock Church of God Pastor Tony Angran started a petition to have the display returned back to its original location, which received more than 1,000 signatures.

"This is ridiculous," Angran told KCCI. "We purchased it to be on the courthouse lawn. The other part is a decoration. This really is the reason for Christmas."

American Atheists organization state director Justin Scott told the Des Moines Register that if the Centerville City Council decides to allow the Nativity Scene to return, they will demand space for their own display.

“We will, in fact, demand equal access to the same property," he said. 

Following a lengthy city council meeting, it was decided that the Nativity scene would not be returned to its original location, something Christians in the town felt was an attack on their faith, KCCI reported.

City officials said they originally approved the Nativity scene because it was part of a larger display. 

"We do not rule by majority, because if there was one person that lived in Centerville, then we have to represent them as well, even if it does not agree with your particular (view)," Centerville City Councilmember Jay Dillard said.

Residents had mixed reaction to the decision.

"I feel like the council members that were involved with this, that did have a say, were cowards," Kathy Perry said.

"I have a right to religious freedom according to the First Amendment of the Constitution," Perry told the Lockport Journal. "I have no problem with Atheism, Wiccan, Satanism, they can put their stuff up there, I think that's great. I'm for everybody to have a say. If I don't like it, I don't have to look at it."

Beau Reeves, an atheist in town applauded the decision.

"I shouldn't have to see baby Jesus on the courthouse lawn," Reeves said. "The fact that the church has spent 10 grand on this scene but still can't fix the drug addiction in this town, or the mental health issues in this town, or kids that aren't getting presents this year in this town, but we have the money to spend 10 grand on a Nativity scene is a little wrong."

The Supreme Court ruled in Lynch v. Donnelly that a Nativity scene was not an effort to advocate a particular religious message or sentiment and that it had "legitimate secular purposes." The case was brought up because of an exact issue like this, where a person wanted to display a Nativity scene on a publicly owned park.

It would be great for triggered liberals to do their research and realize that things they say should be a clear separation of church and state do not actually fall under those premises. This is one of those cases. But, not surprisingly, they would rather be unhinged than educated.