In Virginia, Loudon County wanted to have a religious Christmas display that didn't violate the law. The best way to do this is to open up the courthouse lawn to multiple displays -- that way private citizens erecting a religious display aren't being favored. So that's what they did: 10 displays would be permitted on a first come, first served basis. What they didn't expect is that non-Christian displays would outnumber the Christian ones.
Of the 10, only two would be religious Christian displays -- and one of those won't appear because of safety concerns with the tenth spot!
The 10 applications that have been submitted and accepted for display are as follows, in chronological order as received:
- A crèche, or nativity scene, from Leesburg resident Dennis Welsh.
- A sign showing a picture of the Easter Bunny, Santa and Jesus Christ with text that states, "Myths for Young and Old," a quote from Thomas Edison and information about the Loudoun Atheists, submitted by Leesburg resident Emmert Elsea.
- A banner with the text "Celebrating our Constitution" and language about keeping church and state separate, submitted by Leesburg resident Rick Wingrove. The banner comes from American Atheists and NOVA Atheists.
- A banner promoting "reason in the holiday season," submitted by Lansdowne resident Larry Mendoza.
- A holiday display that will either be a Tree of Knowledge or a holiday message sign, from Sterling resident Lydia Rice.
- A sign displaying a letter from Jesus, submitted by Middleburg resident Jenelle Embrey.
- A piece of art work depicting Santa on a cross to "depict society's materialistic obsessions and addictions and how it is killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season," submitted by Middleburg resident Jeff Heflin Jr.
- A sign about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, submitted by Leesburg resident Ken Levesque.
- Another sign from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this one with a holiday message, submitted by Matthew Courtney of Reston.
- A nativity scene, submitted by the Rev. Jack Grubbs from the Potomac Falls Anglican Church.
Some of the applications were made last December as people tried to ensure that they would get a spot. That was probably a wise idea because a lot of Christians are upset that when it comes to a fair competition, their own beliefs aren't able to completely dominate the public sphere. The whining in Loudon County is almost deafening, which tells us a lot about why some Christians are so anxious to have rigged systems that favor their religion and their beliefs -- it's the only way they have a chance.
Loudon County residents are trying to come up with all sorts of excuses for why only the "right" sorts of Christians should be allowed to have public displays. Some insist that only Christians should be allowed to have displays at Christmas because it's "their" holiday. Some say that only "legitimate" religions should be allowed to have displays (what, free speech exists only for religious groups?). Some say that displays should be limited to groups with a minimum percentage of members from the population (so free speech is a right of groups that are large enough, not of individuals?).
This is what happens when Christianity is denied special privileges, special support, special advantages, or an ability to cheat: Christians lose the ability to completely dominate the public sphere or public conversations and other viewpoints are given equal time. This infuriates many conservative evangelicals and it's one reason why so many are opposed to basic civil liberties and democracy.