Atheist Group's Complaint Backfires, Lands Nativity In Full Public View

By Brittany M. Hughes | December 15, 2014 | 5:03 PM EST

(CNSNews.com) -- When the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) went after a city council in Jay, Fla., for displaying a nativity set on public property, the atheist group might have won a battle, but seems to have lost the war.

The Christmas nativity scene in Jay, Fla. (AP)

The FFRF, known for protesting any and all religious displays in public places, sent a complaint letter recently to local officials in the 526-person city of Jay, arguing against the life-sized nativity that had been set up on the site every Christmas for nearly 40 years, the group said in a press release.

In a letter sent to the city’s mayor, FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel alleged, "It is unlawful for the town to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion.” He added there are "ample private and church grounds where religious displays may be freely placed.”

In response to the group’s complaints, the city council declared the nativity set surplus property and sold it to the Santa Rosa County Ministerial Association, thus removing it from public property.

The FFRF’s co-president, Dan Barker, praised the city council’s decision as “divesting the town of a divisive display.”

But the town has not been deprived of the nativity, reports the American Pastors Network. In fact, after the ministerial association purchased the nativity, they then placed the huge Christian display on private property near one of the busiest parts of the small town, reports the American Pastors Network.

The Christmas nativity scene in Jay, Fla. (AP)

“It now stands at a busy corner at the town’s main stop light—ironic, say nativity supporters, because many more people will see it there,” the APN said in a news release, adding that the more prominent display shows the citizens of Jay “have no intention of removing the real meaning of Christmas from public display.”

The APN said the complaint was just the latest in a continued attack on religious freedom by groups like the FFRF.

“Anyone who actually takes time to study our nation’s history and read the writings of our founders—not the interpretations of those writings written two hundred years later—knows that religious liberty and the acknowledgement of Almighty God as the source of that liberty are the bulwark of our nation,” said APN President Sam Rohrer in the release. “Threats like these against towns that want to display nativities are a blatant attack on our God-given and constitutionally protected freedoms.”

“The truth remains that public displays of the nativity scene on government property in no way violate the Constitution. FFRF’s attempts to stifle religious liberty, however, do,” he added.

According to the APN, a similar nativity placed by a local government in the nearby town of Century, Fla., also came under attack from the FFRF. That nativity was also bought by a church and placed on private property.

A third nativity display in Brookville, Ind., is still standing despite the FFRF’s attempts to force the local government to remove it, the group added.

“Brookville is going a step further and ignoring FFRF’s letters and instead rallying around its nativity,” APN reported in the press release, adding the town held a candlelight walk last weekend to show support for the nativity scene.