Mobile Website | Login | Register
Staff Directory | Advertise | Subscribe | About Us
Business Government Politics Region Crime/Public Safety Education People E-edition Ashburn Hamilton Hillsboro Lansdowne Leesburg Lovettsville Middleburg Purcellville River Creek Round Hill Sterling
Basketball Football Youth Wrestling Gymnastics Swimming Volleyball Baseball Track Golf Cheer Cross Country Schedule Scores
Brambleton Community of Faith Hangin in the Nosebleeds Journal Entry Loudoun Essence Made in Loudoun Odd Angles River Creek & Lansdowne South Riding Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
This Week's Slideshow Browse All Galleries Your Best Dish Featured Video The Virginians
  • Announcements
  • Autos
  • Jobs
  • Legals
  • Homes
  • YardSales
  • Submit an Ad
  • Website Development SEO and SEM Newspaper Advertising Online Advertising
    Classified listings Homes section

    Loudoun board’s finance committee pushes for county-sponsored holiday displays

    The Loudoun Board of Supervisors’ Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee will recommend the full board approve a county-sponsored holiday display on the county courthouse grounds in downtown Leesburg.

    The committee voted 4-1 Oct. 22 to support a holiday display that will include a Christmas tree, lights, ornaments, a spotlight, a nativity scene, a menorah and a Santa Claus with a sleigh and reindeer. The list of items follows a recommendation from a separate Loudoun County Courthouse Grounds and Facilities Committee.

    The full nine-member Board of Supervisors will take up the committee recommendation in November.

    Loudoun County’s holiday display at the courthouse has made unwanted national headlines in recent years. Last December, a “skeleton Santa” on a cross outside the courthouse was vandalized, leading Christian and atheist groups alike to hold peaceful demonstrations on the county property.

    Local atheists continue to address supervisors, urging them not to allow religious displays on government property. Loudoun County, they say, is setting itself up for a lawsuit by sponsoring certain religions on government property.

    Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) continued his opposition to any board support for holiday displays. Williams believes the board is “in fact advancing certain religions, which is a violation of the establishment clause (of the U.S. Constitution),” he said.

    Finance committee chair Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said the recommendation puts some “tastefulness” back to the courthouse grounds display.

    “The fact is that we are not going to have some of the things we’ve seen in the past,” Buona said. “Nor are we going to be the subject in my mind to national ridicule.”

    Comments

    Fedup Dude:  I don’t believe that Allegheny v. ACLU, which can be best described as a complex fragmented decision, totally reversed Lynch V. Donnelly as you are stating. Here’s why:  While it ruled against the display of the crèche, its main rationale was because of its inclusion of the words “Glory to God” which certainly placed an emphasis on its religious significance.  However, this same Court curiously ruled in favor of the Hanukah menorah (in spite of it being owned and displayed by the local Jewish Lubavitch sect) since it was incorporated closer to a number of secular displays.
    US Supreme Court decisions don’t necessarily reverse an earlier ruling, but rather the precedent of that previous ruling.  I believe that upon careful examination of the particulars of the two cases we are now discussing, the “precedent” behind them is quite different. 
    Accordingly, in my view, at least with respect to the display of the crèche in the more recent decision, I do not believe that it would apply to a future display of a crèche if does not contain a religious statement; the one selected for the Loudoun Co. Courthouse does not contain any such religious statement, plus it will be part of an overall seasonal display mix of secular items.
    Having expressed my views, I openly admit that I am not an attorney and may be totally off base in the above-stated views, so with that said, if there are any attorneys out there (preferably with an expertise in Constitutional Law) who wish to state their opinion on this, it would be most appreciated.
    Lastly Fedup dude, whatever the outcome of this may be, let’s continue to maintain the civil dialogue that we are now using toward each other.


    Fedup Dude:  I don’t believe that Allegheny v. ACLU, which can be best described as a complex fragmented decision, totally reversed Lynch V. Donnelly as you are stating. Here’s why:  While it ruled against the display of the crèche, its main rationale was because of the creche’s inclusion of the words “Glory to God” which certainly placed an emphasis on its religious significance.  However, this same Court curiously ruled in favor of the Hanukah menorah (in spite of it being owned and displayed by the local Jewish Lubavitch sect) since it was incorporated closer to a number of secular displays.
    US Supreme Court decisions don’t necessarily reverse an earlier ruling, but rather the precedent of that previous ruling.  I believe that upon careful examination of the particulars of the two cases we are now discussing, the “precedent” behind them is quite different. 
    Accordingly, in my view, at least with respect to the display of the crèche in the more recent decision, I do not believe that this ruling would apply to a future display of a crèche if does not contain a religious statement; the one selected for the Loudoun Co. Courthouse does not contain any such religious statement, plus it will be part of an overall seasonal display mix of secular items.
    Having expressed my views, I openly admit that I am not an attorney and may be totally off base in the above-stated views, so with that said, if there are any attorneys out there (preferably with an expertise in Constitutional Law) who wish to state their opinion on this, it would be most appreciated.
    Lastly Fedup dude, whatever the outcome of this may be, let’s continue to maintain the civil dialogue that we are now using toward each other.


    This must be a Groundhog Day moment.  What the heck !?  How many more times are “we” going to put ourselves, our county on display for the whims of the press ?  How much more embarassment can we endure ?  Just mow down the courtyard area and pave it over for more parking and be done with it.


    John Mileo

    Lynch v. Donnelly over turned previous cases and Allegheny County v. ACLU 1989 overturned it. It is the latest ruling on such a case and would be the standard in a modern court case.


    Fedup Dude. And what do you have to say about: Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S.668 (1984)?  Bottom line here is that the courts have decided both FOR and AGAINST inclusion of religious displays, and in the former instance a crèche (for example) must be a part of a display that includes secular display items as well.  And it should be obvious to anyone of reasonable intelligence that all such items should relate to the holiday being celebrated, and I might add—be respectful and in good taste.  I don’t think that last year’s displays for the most part, fell in line with that viewpoint.


    Loudoun County….you didn’t understand what I wrote…ONLY allow a tree with lights and the greenery.  Forget everything else….you won’t get the crap or get in trouble like before.  If you are truly a Christian you will understand the meaning of the evergreen tree as the display.  Nothing else should be put up—-there are enough other places that display holiday decor.  Besides with the lovely lingerie place right across the street we’d be best to stay simple and classy instead of gaudy and bright.


    SkidRow - I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but your post justifies the display of Skeleton Santa, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Jedi Knight as much as Santa and a nativity scene. 

    If the public wants it, well then it gets to go up.  No one religion should dominate the others because it is PUBLIC land.  The public isn’t all Christian, no matter how much some people like to believe it.  Statistics show the nation as a whole becoming less religious. 

    This is just the big spending “conservatives” trying to score some points with the theocrats.  If they actually cared about good government and classic conservatism, they wouldn’t use government to make a statement like this.  They’d find the common ground and avoid wasting money on legal fees.


    John Mileo - Again the cases that allowed for displays only did so with the requirement all get representation; which the county did last year.

    Allegheny County v. ACLU the Court held that the creche inside the courthouse unmistakably endorsed Christianity in violation of the Establishment Clause.


    Post Script to DAVID. 
    You state:  “The federal government cannot, without violating the Establishment Clause, endorse the religious meaning of the holiday celebrated by some people.”  With that statement in mind, please explain how it is that the Yuletide display on the ellipse in our Nation’s Capital each year, which includes a nativity scene and a huge Hanukah menorah, alit in a public ceremony by a rabbi from the most religious Jewish Lubavitch sect, is allowed?
    And also enlighten me as to why it is that as you and a handful of others in our county continue to so loudly voice your objections over the small display at our local level, while you all remain silent about the far more grandiose holiday display just 30 miles away?


    The Courthouse lawn is PUBLIC land. And the public can use it as it sees fit. So if a segment of the public wishes to put up Christmas displays, they have every right. No different than if atheists wish to display the periodic table.

    People can dislike Christmas and ignore the truth in the bible, but they don’t have a right to oppress the use of PUBLIC LAND to the public because they disagree with how it is being used.


    David, please explain exactly what “definition” you are referring to.  And yes, I fully understand that everybody gets the day off in observance of the Christmas Holiday, but what does that mean?  Does it mean that the nature of this holiday needs to be changed to accommodate each and every citizen?  If so, then what about other holidays that are recognized by the FEDERAL Government..e.g. -Should Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day celebrations include anti-war displays and public flag burnings so as to be inclusionary to all?
    Where does it end, David?


    Fedup Dude, Clearly YOU have not familiarized yourself with all of the major cases that have been brought before the US Supreme Court regarding the so-called holiday display issue.  If you did, you would know that there have been decisions made FOR as well as, against the inclusion of religious items in such displays.  Those made in favor of inclusion of religious items stress that there needs to be a number of secular items on display when items such as a nativity scene and/or a Hanukkah menorah are included.  I suggest that if you take the time to conduct some further research on this subject you will find this to be true, and then perhaps you will cease jumping to (false/inaccurate) conclusions as you have done here.
    I also see that you seemingly avoided offering a response to my statement regarding the origin of the Christmas holiday, itself.


    John Mileo, you refer to the FEDERAL holiday of Christmas, which is, by definition, secular. The federal government cannot, without violating the Establishment Clause, endorse the religious meaning of the holiday celebrated by some people. Everybody gets the day off, not just observant Christians.


    “...get it ALL donated instead of spending money on a bunch of junk.”

    I agree.  But, a few bad apples spoil the bunch.  By donation was how this happened for years.  And then skeleton santa etc had to go and ruin it.

    The reason the government is buying them is to ensure they are acceptable.  I’d rather have private donations but we have a handfull of extremists ruining it for everyone.


    Loudoun County Wrote:

    ““A nativity will get you in trouble.”

    At CHRISTmas?

    No, it won’t.

    Just having a tree would be a nod to the druids, so that won’t work either.  Only a Santa would be bowing down to commercialism, so that’s out too. “


    Clearly you have never looked at the supreme court cases which state trees are secular (as there are no druids since 200 BC) and nativity scenes are religious and if you have them you must allow all a say.

    If the county is foolish enough to go through with this proposal it will get sued and lose in court.


    Fed up dude: While you are correct in stating that Christmas trees, lights and ornaments are not “Christian in origin,” you are ignoring the fact that the Christmas holiday , itself is!

    Based on this fact, perhaps you would like to see the Courthouse (as well as all other government facilities) remain open for business on December 25th, thereby totaling ignoring this Christian-based holiday.


    Skid Row, maybe you should take your pro-vandalism advocacy over to the article on campaign yard signs.


    I wish our BOS (or is it BOZOS) would get off their hack positions and do something about the blizzard of illegal signs that are popping up all across Western Loudoun.  Wine Bars (pretending to be wineries); Propane vendors; carpenters; barn sales; and on an on…all within 2-4 feet of the VDOT pavement.

    Let’s let this political circus called “displays on the courthouse” go and start doing something to protect the quality of life in Loudoun!!!


    Fedupdude is correct. A Christmas tree, in spite of its name, is not considered to be a religious symbol, and would not violate the Establishment clause. The board should have listened to Supervisor Williams, who is the only attorney on the board.

    A display consistent with the federal Christmas holiday would have ended the dispute for all but a small minority on each side. Now the dispute will continue. And that’s what certain board members seem to want.


    Let’s spend our precious dollars (because we can’t give any more to the schools) on this.  Geez…just get a tree donated with lights and be done with it.  Christians can find meaning in the tree and lights if that’s what you’re worried about “Loudoun County”.  Let’s get back to classy and get it ALL donated instead of spending money on a bunch of junk.


    hey, wait a minute…
    I thought you republicans were all for less government in our lives. Why on earth would you want our government meddling in or even representing our holidays in any way shape or form?


    God Bless Loudoun County. And if Skeleton Santa comes back, hopefully it receives the same fate as last year.


    “A nativity will get you in trouble.”

    At CHRISTmas?

    No, it won’t.

    Just having a tree would be a nod to the druids, so that won’t work either.  Only a Santa would be bowing down to commercialism, so that’s out too.


    Ugh, put up some general “Xmas” decorations and leave it alone.  Wreaths, lights.  Instead these clowns are going to invite another lawsuit. Maybe they should go burn a pile of money, the same end will be reached.


    Christmas tree, lights, and ornaments have all passed the separation of church and state standards in several lawsuits; they are not Christian in origin.


    If the County is going to have a Christmas tree, lights, ornaments, a spotlight, a nativity scene, a menorah and a Santa Claus with a sleigh and reindeer, then they’ll need full representation for the holidays and include the Spaghetti Monster and Skeleton Santa, else someone is going to be offended at their discrimination.


    A win? A lawsuit they are going to lose you mean. Stick to a tree and Santa, they are secular. A nativity will get you in trouble.


    Good to see the BoS put one in the win column.  That courthouse lawn clown show needed to come to an end.

    Get Our Headlines Via Email
    Tuesdays:  
    Thursdays:

    StayConnected

    Follow Us
    on Twitter

    News | Sports

    Like Us
    on Facebook

    News & Sports

    Join Our
    Email List

    Sign up for
    weekly updates
    The Loudoun Times-Mirror

    is an interactive, digital replica
    of the printed newspaper.
    Open the e-edition now.

    Loudoun Business Journal