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.”
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