Nativity Scenes on Town Property



This morning I woke up at some dreadful hour and found myself unable to go back to sleep. Doing something probably awful for falling back asleep, I started reading news stories on my smartphone. One caught my eye at Newsbusters - a site dedicated to "Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias". This liberal was somewhat bemused by the following story: Fox Spotlights Minnesota Town's Rebellion Against Anti-Christmas Atheists.

The short version is the evil whining atheists made a town take down its nativity scene. In response, gazillions of residents put up their own nativity scenes on their own private property. That'll show those pablum puking liberals.

As one of those evil people strongly in support of separating church and state, my thoughts on the matter are... cool. The town is no longer endorsing a religion. And people are exercising their own freedom of expression and worship. I fail to see how putting up a nativity scene on private property is sticking it to atheists. 

My thought is it is not the job of the government to endorse any religion or holiday tradition. The 1st Amendment prohibits the establishment of a religion and such nativity displays, especially when to the exclusion of other displays, is endorsing a religion.

But almost nobody minds except for those atheists/Muslims/etc. So what. The 1st Amendment protects the rights of the minority. I don't mind at all if every house is decorated with life-size nativity scenes. And actually, it wouldn't matter if I did mind. If a private citizen wants to display a little altar to Ba'al then that is his or her Constitutional right, even if the neighbors are firmly in the anti-Ba'al camp.  

Put simply, no religious displays on public property is not anti-religion, it is neutral. Blocking a private citizen or a church from putting up their own displays on their own property is anti-religion. Like most rights, this is not absolute. For example, if you have a recording of a heavenly chorus so loud it shakes neighboring houses, you are probably violating some non-religious noise ordinance.

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