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UPDATE: Board decides to keep displays; vote will be moved to next year’s board

photoThe skeleton Santa can be seen here dismantled from the crucifix that it had be hung on. According to authorities, the display was vandalized around noon on Dec. 5. Times-Mirror Photo/Laura Peters

It’s that time of year again, when holiday cheer fills the air and the Loudoun County Courthouse lawn is scattered with potentially offensive displays and outraged citizens.

One display has already received some extra attention. The display in question, a skeleton in a Santa suit on a crucifix, was torn down by a vandal around noon on Dec. 5, according to Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell.

The display

The owner of the display is Middleburg resident Jeff Heflin Jr., according to Julie Withrow, a Loudoun County administrator.

On Heflin’s application for inclusion in the courthouse display, he described his entry as “art work of 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.” Heflin is not part of any organization and sponsored the display himself.

According to an email sent by Leesburg Town Council member and Republican Leesburg Supervisor-elect Ken Reid, he was “utterly outraged” when he saw the display.
“It is my intent as the new Supervisor for Leesburg to seek changes in the county policy so these outrageous anti-religious displays are not debasing the lawn of our beloved courthouse,” Reid wrote in the email.

Loudoun resident Gisela S. Bresler wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors about her concerns with the display.

“Perhaps the person or organization that displayed this monstrosity wants to make a point that Christmas is dead, or that Christ is dead,” Bresler wrote.

“The point is that free speech is a two-way street. It is fine for whoever decided to display this obnoxious thing to have it displayed, but it is also correct for those who are insulted by it to speak against it. I am, therefore condemning this and I am repulsed by the fact of it,” the letter continued.

“I don’t like Santa on the cross, either. I think that’s disgusting,” Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) said. “That’s why I was the only supervisor to vote against using the courthouse lawn for displays of that kind.”

The removal of skeleton Santa

Withrow said that she received several calls from residents about about the display after it was taken down.

“I’ve had several calls from folks who observed a woman go onto the courthouse lawn and take down the Santa skeleton on the cross display and put it on the ground,” Withrow said. “One of our staff members asked her if it was her and she said no.”

“We’re there to protect the grounds, those displays are private property of the owner,” Withrow continued.

WUSA 9 reporter Peggy Fox was at the scene when the woman was vandalizing the piece. She said that a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy was watching and then approached the scene, but ended up speaking with Fox, not the woman. He informed Fox that she wasn’t allowed to film on the courthouse lawn.

“While I’m shooting her, I see a sheriff’s deputy and he ignored her and came to me,” Fox said. “He told me I couldn’t film on the lawn.”

According to Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Horne’s secretary, Alice Alkire, media are allowed to take photos on the courthouse lawn because it is public grounds.

Fox asked the deputy if he was going to do anything about the woman dismantling the display and he responded he wasn’t going to bother with it.

However, Troxell denied those allegations, and said the Sheriff’s Office is reviewing the procedures related to allowing cameras on the courthouse property .

“The deputy was out there taking a look at it to further investigate what had occurred,” he said.

“It later came to our attention that the resident dismantling the display was not the applicant who erected the item. It is our understanding the item was later removed by the applicant. The Sheriff’s Office is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter to determine what, if any, criminal violations have occurred and potential charges,” Troxell said in a release.

“We had the same thing happen a year ago when Ed Myers put up some vulgar parody lyrics of the ‘Twelve Days of Xmas,” said Miller. “Well, those came down within an hour and that’s vigilantes. What I think is stunning is that we have all these people who say we have a right to put whatever we want up because of the First Amendment. I can only hope that it’s different people who go out and tear down the ones they don’t like.”

Rick Wingrove, president of the Virginia Chapter of American Atheists, said the county needs to do something about having displays on the lawn.

Changes to the displays

A board-appointed citizen group, the Courthouse Grounds and Facilities Committee, recommended in December 2009 that the county ban courthouse displays. The board later denied the committee’s request.  The debate resurfaced in July 2010 when the committee requested a ban be put in place on courthouse lawn displays. The board decided that anyone could put up displays on the lawn on a first-come, first-serve basis, with 10 spots, recently reduced to nine.

The courthouse lawn display issue was brought up during the board’s Dec. 6 meeting where Miller motioned for the rules of the displays to be suspended in order to discuss the issue. The motioned failed with a 5-4 vote.

Miller said the displays were “turning the courthouse lawn into a chamber of horrors.” Other supervisors agreed that the displays were causing more of a problem than necessary.

“I think I’ve reached a point where I think, in the terms of the physical conditions of the courthouse grounds and the uproar we have each year, I’m for ‘no’ on courthouse displays,” Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) said.

Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said she was tired of seeing such animosity on the displays.

“I’m tired of it. It’s December and, regardless of what you celebrate, isn’t this the time to put the energy to advancing something in the community to do something good?” Waters asked. “Generally I’d like to see the community stop having this nastiness and put your energy to something good instead of just being mean.”

Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) said that it is now a timing issue and it will be brought up early next year with the new board.

Comments


@An Enlightened Being (ironic name)- Just because something cannot be disproven does not make it proven.

Just because one cannot disprove aliens visited the Egyptians and gave them technology does not prove that it happened.

Religion is faith because there is no proof of God.


Hey Ken, thanks for an intelligent outline of what you believe. Here are my perspectives on your comments:

  KEN > 1. Simple logic says that you can’t disprove anything, it is only possible to prove something. And religious people have zero evidence for existence of their deity.

  I see your point. Though if something is proven true, it usually does disqualify competing theories. But in any case, here is the best part of the conversation for both of us. And it’s a doozy: We are both working with the exact same evidence for each of our world views.

Everything depends on where we start, our beginning frame of reference. I have never been afraid of proof that God is vapor and in turn false. Having an open mind to consider all things is a plus not a minus. But so far science only answers some of the “how” we work, not “why” we work.

For many of us, God has been very present and visible in many ways. But again unless we are both open to all options without discounting what may be true then you are right - in your eyes there is no evidence.

  KEN> My opinion is that the meaning of existence is to pass on the digital code that comprises DNA. The DNA gets shuffled through generations, but our bodies simply exist as a container for the DNA, which has been getting passed down generationally since the beginning of life. The body and brain are essentially only a tool of the gene to reproduce itself.

  I agree with the idea here, but it’s the process part of life, not necessarily the meaning of life. I can easily understand how someone could write the notion of God off. But on my side it’s just as hard to think that what you just said has no more meaning than a human zeros machine. Seems so strange and pointless. And to be honest if that really was all there is - why not war and take what you can get during your short shot at temporary existence.

  KEN > Every emotion (even the capacity for religion, jealousy, hate, love) that a human (or animal) possesses helped the gene survive to this point.

  So, let’s talk this emotion component. If we are truly wired to make genetic copies of ourselves and that’s it - then where did all of the passion, compassion, love, hate and the rest come from? If you believe that evolution has some purpose then doesn’t the mere fact these traits are deep within all of us means they should be?

  KEN > Its a philosophy without bronze-age, superstitious, middle-eastern derived garbage beliefs (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).

  I actually understand why you believe this. Religion has killed and ruined more people than anything else in the history of the world. But take a closer look at Jesus, and what He is really all about. It wasn’t the hookers and sinners that made him angry - he loves and see the best in us all.  His anger raged in the temple courtyard when the religious leaders had turned it into a money driven side show. And we see that even today on TV at times.

  But Jesus isn’t a philosophy or mere religion. I think one of the most compelling thoughts is how so long after He lived on earth - just mention of His name above any other strikes such a chord. He is blistered and chided by those who can’t objectively read His words. Such radical things like truly love your neighbor and don’t even think about using people. Consider those less fortunate - but don’t treat them as such. If someone wants your help regardless of who they are (or what they believe) go with them. These are indeed the words of a crazy person hell bent on destroying society. Or are they?

  KEN> The end.

  Well, I don’t believe that :) 

  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays


@Mom the Amoeba - my apologies, I hope you didn’t take offense to my slight at you and your son.  Sorry to hear about cuz Organic Soup, maybe you can get it a Bunsen Tutor to heat up its skills.


My Dearest Kenneth,

I know I told you that you were adopted, but you deserve the truth.  I asexually reproduced with myself to create you. 

If you are not busy this weekend, please come over and we can encircle some food particles.

Love,
Mom the Amoeba

P.S. Your cousin Organic Soup failed his math test again.  Perhaps you could tutor him.


@Kenny - So by your own words, God, Faith and whether or not there is communication between you the Deity cannot be disproven.  I would rather believe in the Creator then believe my ancestor is an amoeba.


@Frank

Thank you for your message, Festivus is awesome.

1. Simple logic says that you can’t disprove anything, it is only possible to prove something. And religious people have zero evidence for existence of their deity.

2. Do you really think you have the ability to communicate with your deity through telepathy? Has your deity ever talked back, or is it a one-way street?

My opinion is that the meaning of existence is to pass on the digital code that comprises DNA. The DNA gets shuffled through generations, but our bodies simply exist as a container for the DNA, which has been getting passed down generationally since the beginning of life.

The body and brain are essentially only a tool of the gene to reproduce itself.

Every emotion (even the capacity for religion, jealousy, hate, love) that a human (or animal) possesses helped the gene survive to this point.

When our bodies die, no worries, our genes will live on in our offspring, or nieces/nephews etc.

Its a philosophy without bronze-age, superstitious, middle-eastern derived garbage beliefs (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).

The end.


Kenneth,

Your kids must look forward to the 25th with unabated anticipation to open their Festivus presents. 

“Look Sally - another microscope because we are smart scientists and can disprove the existence of all deities.”

However, I suspect you require the airing of grievances and feats of strength before opening presents.

Merry Christmas!

I am praying for your soul.  //<—Free speech//


As an atheist I really hate it when fellow non believers start talking about being smarter than religious people because often the argument is pithy and not at all intelligent on either end.

However some of the so called Christians on here should be ashamed of themselves. This is not some religious government system in America where you have the right to attack any perceived criticism of your religion.

In order for the government to allow religious symbolism on their property they need to allow all opinions to be heard and guess what you are just going to have to let it slide or you will have to chose to only put up your display at your religious center and forget about the government space. Those are your options under free speech in America. Do not act like the Taliban.


Hey Ken, stop wasting your time on what you don’t believe about us and provide some solid answers on what you do believe. And in keeping with your benevolently articulated rules of faith vs. proof, lay out the inarguable evidence for your “non small minded” and grown up beliefs.

  This is gonna get interesting, because I have a feeling what you believe is just as much a question of faith as mine.

  What’s really funny too a lot of us is how you decry such things yet can’t provide any real answers yourself. Oh, and remember, it’s not about me or what I believe this time. The floor is yours. If you do have anything one would think it could convince at least the “less intelligent” that linger behind you.

  Now, can you be a big boy and do that? Gooood…


Bluedog,

I have every right to mock your religion, would you prefer a Pakistani/Saudi version of blasphemy laws in this country? From what I’m aware, I’m not breaking any laws by mocking your small-minded superstition/religious beliefs. Therefore, I have every right to verbalize what I think is true.

Your religion is ridiculous because you think you are special because:
1. You’ve found eternal salvation (without any evidence)
2. You have some special knowledge that non-christians do not.
3. Yours is the only “true” religion (as religions are mutually exclusive). 

Btw, I can tell you the most likely scenario when you die: nothing. You cease to exist, no heaven, no meeting long-lost relatives etc. Why is that so difficult to accept? Instead, religions conjure an afterlife to comfort the masses.

To most thinking people, false hope is worth nothing.

Anyways, there is as much evidence of the existence of your god exists as there is for leprechauns.

And there isn’t any evidence of an afterlife, so you believe things as a child believes in fairy tales, yet you’re an adult.

So sad.


Blue Dog you are unAmerican if you think it is okay to rip down a display because you disagree with it. What if I went around ripping down religious displays, or Santa Clauses?


Kenneth, I learned long ago that you can’t argue with babies, drunks and idiots.  But here I go anyway….

No, you do not have the right to belittle anyone’s belief system, no matter how idiotic you may think it is.  Individuals choose their belief system as you have chosen your belief system.  You arrived at your beliefs somehow, and they are your personal beliefs.  Others did the same.  You can only decide what is right for you, not tell everyone else they are wrong-headed and misguided. The real detriment of religion and philosophy is not when we guide ourselves by our personal beliefs that make us better people and care for our neighbors, but is is when we try to impose our beliefs on others, as history has shown. To bring this all around to the original argument, nothing on that Courthouse lawn imposed a philosophy or belittled anyone else’s beliefs until the crucified Santa came along.  Even the atheists presented their point of view, not lambasted the believers for their adherence to their religion.  Unless you have some foresight, you have no way of knowing what happens at the end of your time on this planet.  So, it logically follows that you have no way of knowing what happens next.  You, my friend, can be wrong as well.


I’ve read every comment posted b/c I value different opinions. I don’t necessarly like them but I can agree to disagree b/c they are just opinions. Im a christian and proud of it.  I don’t believe in arguing about whether there is a God or not.  I know how I feel & what I believe, that’s all that matters to me. Everyone has a choice & I choose to believe He was born in a manger, healed sick & lame, died on a cross for my sins, rose on the 3rd day with all power!  That’s my choice. I live in a country that allows me that priviledge.  We don’t have to argue God’s word with unbelievers b/c it’s their choice not to believe.  It’s our obligation to pray for them. God does the rest. He knows who will & won’t come to Him.  Jeremiah 33, I think talks about if you see your brother is sinning & you dont tell him the right way, his sin is your sin.  If you tell him and he continues to sin, its back on him.  You’ve stated your beliefs and they refuse to hear you, pray and keep it moving. God is there if anyone decides to call on Him but He is a gentleman. He won’t come in uninvited! I pray for unbelievers everyday but Im realistic enough to know that there are some who never will believe no matter what you say, or what happens in their lives.  It will only be on that day when EVERY KNEE WILL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! Unfortunately, it will be too late…..Its what I believe and it’s my choice to believe just like you choose not to.  Im not mad at your choice nor will I argue the point with anyone b/c I can respect your right not to believe. We seem to have lost respect for ea other along the way.  We want to be angry with anyone who do not agree with us.  I can respect the young man’s desire to make his point b/c we have gotten away from the real meaning of Christmas.  I don’t agree with using the cross to do it. As a Christian, Im not supposed to be ok with it.  As non believers, you don’t see the cross like I see it.  To you, it’s two boards nailed together.  To me, a symbol of suffering & shame. I’d rather see nothing on the courthouse lawn than to see the displays that have made their way there.  In the end you can’t please everyone so the BOS should not allow any displays and maybe we can start to heal and come together as a community no matter what you believe.


@Kenneth, Was it you that asked for an explanation of belief? That’s such a big question & not easily typed. How can an atheist understand I wondered, & how does an atheist feel? In my Christan studies, I was told about an author named Lee Strobel who was an atheist. He is not now, but he writes about his journey in book “The Case for Christ” . Maybe that would be enlightening considering your point of view currently. I was raised Christian & both my parents have remarkable faith. I have always felt the Holy Spirit working in my life, but in the last year & a half, I did find a church that is incredible & what was “ok” is now “spectucular”. It is never too late to discover faith in God (unless you are already dead). Another easy read is “23 minutes in hell” by Bill Wiese. A true account of visiting Hell-told so others would know what it is like. Interesting reading. I wish you happiness & fulfillment my friend. :)


Kenneth, you have every right to mock or criticize another person’s beliefs. But neither do much other than make you look petty. It really doesn’t matter if you think the majority of the planet is wrong. It doesn’t matter that we are feeble little morons in your eyes.

  What matters is that no matter how much you yell, throw tantrums and demand attention - you will never have the eternal impact of Jesus Christ, who’s heard it all before.

  What matters is that when you may need help after losing everything, we will care for you too.

  What matters is that the majority of the planet thinks what you believe is based on fear. It’s easy to sit and spout against others to try to hold to a higher calling when you run from any sign of moral measurement yourself. What are you running from?

  The truth is right now you can’t change even if you wanted to - and that’s not a place that freedom lives.


@Kenneth: go back to watching your DvR’d “Robot Chicken” repeats. ROFL!


Bluedog wrote:
“But, as an American you cannot belittle or undermine another person’s beliefs…. You can observe your own rituals, but your right to do so ends where it belittles someone else’s belief system or seeks to undermine or destroy their observances.”
———————————————-

Blue dog, your statement is wrong on so many levels.

As an American, I have the FULL right to belittle or undermine another person’s beliefs. Are you saying religious beliefs are unquestionable and not subject to criticism? Are there laws I don’t know about that protect religion from critique or mocking?

For me, Chrisitianity, Judaism, Islam are belief systems equally moronic and simply where small-minded, gullible people find comfort from their own fears. These religions are based on primitive bronze-age, middle eastern morals.

What demented deity would have a commandment to not say a deity’s name in vain, yet not have “Do not rape” as a commandment? 

It is unfathomable that people would follow religions created in one of the most awful regions on our planet.

Anyways, I didn’t know I didn’t have the right to mock other people idiotic belief systems. Thank you for letting me know.


The great thing about America, “Deal”, is that you have an equal right to not go along.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to participate, rather than throw a tantrum and call Santa on a cross a tribute to the commercialism of Christmas as this “artist” did.  Funny the only thing disturbed was the Santa.  What it means is that it offends the community standard, which is a long tried and true gauge of whether something is inciting, or not.  Christmas has been a national, and therefore secular, holiday in the US since President Grant.  It is, for many, a religious holiday, but it is also for many a secular holiday of the end of the year, prosperity, compassion for others and giving.  Interestingly, Christmas is celebrated by Buddhists and Shinto practitioners in Japan.  It is observed, it is tolerated, and it is enjoyed as a secular festival, despite only one half of one percent of Japanese being Christians.  Americans are tolerant as well and allow multiple disciplines to flourish, whether religious based or not.  As an American you can observe or not.  But, as an American you cannot belittle or undermine another person’s beliefs.  There’s your explanation.  You can observe your own rituals, but your right to do so ends where it belittles someone else’s belief system or seeks to undermine or destroy their observances.  Odd that for a philosophy as tolerant and peaceful as Hinduism and which has for centuries coexisted peacefully with other religions, “Deal” has little tolerance for anyone else’s beliefs and resorts to intolerance and incitement (“I go take them down and leave them in the street”) rather than acceptance and coexistence.  In none of his cases cited has anyone come to his house and put up decorations or forced him to observe Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah or any other festival.  These observances have every right to be there.  Others can post their philosophy as well.  You do not and cannot disparage another person’s beliefs, whether you consider it art or not.  That is why the crucified skeleton Santa is on the ground.


“bluedog” just reiterates the disconnect with reality these people suffer from. 

It absolutely is an issue of free speech and it absolutely is vandalism, which is criminal. 

Let us turn it around.  I’m a Hindu and I think all this Christmas nonsense being shoved in my face is offensive.  I’m sick of this county bowing to the Christians and I want to see those Christmas decorations in town taken down.  So I go take them down and leave them in the street. 

Is that criminal?  Is that vandalism? 

You folks can’t pick and choose when you want free speech to apply or when a law should actually be enforced.  It is the apex of hypocrisy.  Like it or not, Loudoun has changing demographics.  It is not some sleepy, rural county full of white Christians who go to church every Sunday.  You now have educated people from all over who are different religions and subscribe to no religion.  Deal with it.  They all pay taxes and all have equal rights to speech.  No need to shove Christmas down their throat and tell them to shut up with their beliefs. 

Again, I am looking for the devout Christian who can explain to me why Jesus would support their beliefs of limiting people’s speech and vandalizing someone else’s display. I’m having a hard time making that connection.


This is some funny _hit.  Only in this hypocritic county could a circus like this go forward.  The commentary here reflects the ignorance, prejudice and intolorance that prevails in this place.  But it is great entertainment, keep it up folks, when I need a good laugh, I have my fellow citizens in LowDown County to thank for my amusement.


This isn’t vandalism.  This isn’t freedom of speech.  This isn’t criminal.  It is the reaction of a community to an idiotic set of PC rules that even our county council can’t seem to wade through for fear of offending someone.  Face it folks, this is the holiday season.  This is a celebration of whatever holiday you wish to celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan) or your right not to celebrate anything at all, but it is not a season for the owner of a inflammatory, tasteless, and rude piece of so-called art to ruin any spirit of joy or happiness brought on by the season.  It is not anyone’s right to overtip the applecart and cause anger and bad feelings among his fellow residents.  It is also an incredibly poor showing of leadership by the county council as they kick the can further down the road, hoping the problem will just go away.  It won’t.  It was wrong for the county to try to appease everyone, it was wrong to section off the court house lawn for anti-holiday displays.  It is a true example of everything that is wrong with today’s society. Mr. Heflin remarked that his display marked “killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season” and yet, he has singularly done more to disrupt those feelings than any display on any courthouse lawn in America.  Nice going, neighbor.  Thanks for ruining the holiday season. No courthouse has to be free of religious based displays.  Even the Supreme Court has a frieze of Moses and the 10 Commandments displayed. It also has many other lawgivers.  It does not have any Santas on crosses.  Whether you celebrate the holidays, or as Scrooge, keep them in your own way, it is not your right to disrupt your community, or belittle your neighbors for their beliefs.  The Santa did just that and deserves to be torn down every time it is put up.  It is no different than an anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic display, which I’m sure the county would not tolerate.  Shame on Mr Heflin for causing the problem.  And shame on the council for being too PC to take a stand against incitement on the courthouse lawn.


Don’t miss it folks! For the 14th year, Leesburg Church of the Nazarene will pull out all the stops for its immensely popular drive-through nativity, back from 5-8:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11. This is fantastic and all are welcome. ;-)


There, there Thruthy, there there.


Let the religious extremist right pray their way to euphoria and delirium.  Religious rationality and secular thought will prevail.  Hey right wingers, go read your Bible , it is the word of MEN not God.  As you read, enjoy your view in the mirror.  Perhaps then you will get the message.


I’d like an awnser!
#1- Whoever it may concern! How come there are many posts about this courthouse delema that do not reveal the persons full name? Scared to let everyone know who you are! Not Me!
#2- Kenneth! If you don’t believe in any religion,  do you take advantage of the holiday sales that go on during this time!
#3- Kenneth! If God did not start everything then what produced the big bang theory? Example! You were made by your parents, and your parents were made by your grand parents and your grand parents were made by your great grand parents! Where does all of this start from? Somewhere there has to be a beginning!
#4- Does it take any intellegence( during the big bang theory) to start with a single cell micro organicism and end up with a complicated human body that we still don’t know everything about?
#5- What started everything that we see, smell, touch, think and hear to be able to fuction in this world?
  My point is this! How many times has anyone tried to come up with a solution about how man has evolved! How many theories about this have been blown away! The fact is that nobody has the awnser! Somewhere down the line there has to be a starting point! In my faith ” God has always been and always will be”. That is not what you believe but just think about it!


@Kenneth, You LOLz me & may you have an awesome weekend. ;-)


@Mrs. McLuv May God bless you & yours my Sister. We ‘ll just keep praying & he’ll show us the way. ;-D

—————————————————-

Prayer? Do you really think that your deity can hear and respond to your thoughts through mental telepathy?


@Mrs. McLuv May God bless you & yours my Sister. We ‘ll just keep praying & he’ll show us the way. ;-D


Happy Holidays


Generally, the more religious a person is, the more ignorant they are about world affairs (see GOP presidential candidates).

Also, it seems religiosity is inversely correlated with education levels. For the most part, religious people are simply not as smart or as educated as non-religious people.

Religious people have the mindset of children (or sheep), they worship their god because they’re scared of death and they want to be “rewarded” in an afterlife.

Isn’t it odd that the bible makes no mention of science in it? It makes no mention of a sun-centered solar system, of stars being suns and galaxies…etc.


@Identity Revealed - THANK YOU for bringing me back!  I just read it.  Merry Christmas to you and yours!!  God bless!!


And if you don’t care what Kennith thinks, or what I think, why have you not turned the other cheek and ignored him or me? You seem to care a lot what others think about your chosen faith.


Actually the first amendment protects political speech as well as satire. People in fact do have the right to criticize religion, politics, and the commercialization of the holiday. Maybe you should realize the right to practice religion also extends to the right to practice no religion in this nation and free speech is protected here.


Fed up Dude - I’m just fine with MY God.  How can you say that I care about what others believe?  I could care less what you believe, and we ALL know what Kenneth believes!  I really don’t care.  I have friends of all different faiths, and I love them just the same.  The difference between them and you is that they have respect for others.  You don’t.  I have a right to love my faith, my religion and my holiday.  YOU do not have the right to hang an offensive symbol to insult me and my faith.  The funny thing, about big mouths like you and Ken, who hate everyone and want to bring everyone down with you, is that as soon as someone disagrees with YOU, you attack them and insult their beliefs!  Ironic.  Here’s a thought…... leave Christians alone.  We know what’s right.  You don’t.  We’ll be just fine in the end….. You?  Well, as a GOOD Christian, I’ll say a prayer for you that one day YOU and KEN wake up and realize that this world isn’t the end.  You’ll find that out sooner or later….. Again, good luck!


Mrs. McLuv - You seem to be a poor Christian that needs to reread the parts about forgiveness. Why get so upset that people don’t beleive what you beleive. Trying to squash their free speech makes you akin to the Taliban. This is America we all get a say and our rights are all protected equally.


Hey Kenneth, give it a rest already !  Geez !  We all are now painfully aware of how much you hate God.  Good luck with that when your number’s up.


I just found a new copy of “Guideposts” in my mail! I can’t wait to read “True Stories of Hope & Inspiration”!! I love Guideposts because it is a magazine that offers a positive view of religion not just from one side, but all sides. I hope we can bring our community together on our “sideways” issues & show our God how blessed he his & give thanks. :)


@Mrs McLuv, read NIV Psalm 37:1-11. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary. I read on the “Christian Post” that in Ellwood City, PA that the city is not taking down it’s Navitity that they have had for 50 years & they have rejected the “Winter Solstice” banner (same one we had) as they say it endorses atheism & “put down what others believed.” The mayor says, “There’s no reason to debate their issue because I feel they’re out of line.” The town also has a snowman,a Santa Claus, & a Christmas tree. Cliff Reynolds, senior pastor of Word Alive Church, says “the banner is contary to the belief system of most people in the city.” I love this town & wish my townsfolk would likewise take a stand.


If the christian god had a sense of humor, he’d be laughing.

Unfortunatly, the christian bible is oddly devoid of humor. Humor and irony are the enemies of religious dogma.

If christians were sure of their (delusional) faith, they would laugh instead of being angry at an ad-hoc sculpture.

Many christians thrive on the idea of persecution, even while comprising the vast majority of the population.

It seem the fate of logical people is living with religiously deluded people, who attempt to dement their societies into a version of a their bronze-age scripture they refer to for guidance.


Offensive and inflammatory speech is protected by the First Amendment.  The folks from the Westboro Baptist Church could show up on the lawn of the Loudoun County Courthouse tomorrow with their God hating signs and NOBODY could do anything about it. Matter of fact, law enforcement would have to ensure that they were protected from harm.  The same officer who did nothing to stop the woman from vandalizing the Santa display would have to stand watch and protect those like Westboro.  Get a life people!  The First Amendment protects EVERYBODY, not just Christian beliefs!


LETS LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE!
  Some of us don’t believe in anything and some us believe in some kind of religion! It doesn’t matter what we believe in! All that matters is that all of us must use what we have inside of us to make this world a better place to live in!
  Most people go off the deep end with their beliefs because they want to be heard! If they would sit back, analyze the situation and then react with better tactics they would accomplish more in the long run!
  I have read all the comments on this page and I am amazed that there is too much, I can’t let that person get away with that comment because I am offended by it! GROW UP PEOPLE! Just because you are offended by what someone else says doesn’t mean you have to attack them with a response!
  The world has numerous kinds of different people with different beliefs! If all of us would just sit back and think more clearly about how we could solve most problems, and not have a KNEE JURK REACTION TO THAT SITUATION, most problems would be solved quicker and with better results!
  The world isn’t perfect no matter how you look at it! But with some good common sense attached to most problems, it definitly would get better! You may call me a dreamer but just sit back and think about what I wrote and see if it makes sense in your eyes!


“Go to church.”  I find it funny that the only people who adamantly twist Bible verses to conclude that someone “must” attend church are the people who run the business known as a “church”.  Most are just rackets trying to separate people from their money.  Go read about the guy in Sterling with his “racing ministry”. 

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/undergod/2008/11/va_pastor_leading_cult_or_cult.html


I think Laura Peters and the editorial board at the Loused Up Times should learn the English language. Vandalism is defined as “willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property.” There was neither in this case, as nothing was destroyed or defaced. The skeleton was removed from the cross, put on the ground. Your bias is very evident and your willingness to promote reaction rather than report the news is telling.

———————————————

So under that logic, if a person unscrewed a stop sign and gently placed it on the ground, that wouldn’t be vandalism?


People should worship my deity, his name is Steve.

He understands why people don’t worship him and he doesn’t demand people’s subservience.


I think Laura Peters and the editorial board at the Loused Up Times should learn the English language. Vandalism is defined as “willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property.” There was neither in this case, as nothing was destroyed or defaced. The skeleton was removed from the cross, put on the ground. Your bias is very evident and your willingness to promote reaction rather than report the news is telling.


@ Mrs. Mcluv

Go to church to worship your god?

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can become desensitized to their horror.


@Kenneth…..MY God is all loving and all forgiving!  Even towards you.  Good luck to you, Kenneth.  Do yourself a favor and go to church.  I mean that, seriously.  It’s never too late…... until it’s really too late!


@ Mrs. McLuv

Your god is not forgiving, he is genocidal.

Your god is a vengeful megalomaniac who killed Job’s family and tortured him simply to win a bet with satan.

Your god practiced human sacrifice by sending his own son to die in a violent manner on earth.

Your god killed thousands upon thousands of children for the sins of the parents (great flood, sodom & gomorrah, egypt) etc.

Mrs. McLuv, your god is an awful, disgusting character and he sure doesn’t sound forgiving in the bible.


Fed up Dude, only God is all patient and all forgiving.  I don’t pretend to be, nor am I going to just let fools like Kenneth go on and on hurling insults and just sit back and say nothing.  Oh, and by the way, Kenneth, you and Fed up Dude should exchange emails and chat because you’re both nuts.  Merry Christmas, everyone!!


get back to work slackers


I think we should all get together on the Courthouse lawn (Christians v. Pre-Christians) and have a snow ball fight.


The comments on this article are more hilarious than the entire debacle around Leesburg, once again, battling out their stupid lawn displays.  What a boring town you live in, if this is #1 on the news for you.

Overall, I’d say the comments on this article remind me of a play called “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza.  A group of adults behaving like children.  Brilliant!


I cannot believe it.  Patch has a letter to the editor from Ken Reid, calling for the removal of all religious displays from the courthouse.  What!  Ken Reid, not even on the board yet, and already proving to be a liar.


HEY KIDS PLAY NICE
MERRY CHIRSTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
TO ALL


Christians are blessed with the knowledge that Christianity is the one “true” religion.

The Christian god loves everyone, but if a person hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, they are doomed to eternal torture in the afterlife.

The Christian god is all-powerful and omnipotent, so he must have good reasons for allowing unimaginable suffering on our planet, including allowing young children to die painful death from cancer etc.

While the Christian god practiced genocide many times (the great flood, Egypt, etc), he had good reasons for massacring entire societies.

Also, this god sent his son to be tortured to death for the sins of humans, but he was also sending himself, since god and his son are the same being, which makes perfect sense.

So let’s celebrate the birth of his son, by putting coniferous trees in houses in pre-Christian Germanic tradition.

Let’s also celebrate the birth of Christ by telling children an obese old man from the north breaks into into their house and leaves presents.


You know the hypocrisy on this thread is amazing. Mrs. McLuv you talk about him being hateful and write a hateful message to him.

God I love ironic posts like this.


Kenneth, sign off your computer and go find a hobby.  You are so full of hate and bitterness. You don’t, nor can you, hurt us.  We have our faith, you obviously don’t, but that’s your issue not ours.  You’re a sad, pathetic individual who needs to find God!!  BTW, Mary was not “unknowingly” impregnated.  Why don’t you read the bible first before attempting to quote from it?  You should go to church and learn a thing or two before posting your ignorant thoughs.  Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas!!


@Erock - The tree is not a Christian tradition, yule was a pagan German thing. Christmas is a national day off for everyone and all religions or no religion; it was not ever made for Christians who go to church only. Don’t be silly.


Hey idiots, what is the tree for,do you have one?It would be intberesting to see how you celebrate this holladay; bonus,day off work ,or are you alone eating Cheetos on a bean bag chair in your mom’s basemant. Will you tell your employeer you do not accept any of the above? Some of us work.


...who cares now? Lindsay Lohan’s playboy photo has been leaked.


Christmas is for celebrating the birth of of a the son of the creator of the universe. His mother was unknowingly impregnated by this deity.

In a Roman colony on the eastern mediterranean, god’s manifested himself as a peasant Jewish carpenter who chose to be violently tortured to death for our sins. A few people claimed he was resurrected, but he didn’t appear publicly. Unfortunately, the Romans have no records of this person. 

Currently, many churches symbolically cannibalize him on sundays, and people often decorate conifer trees near the shortest day of the year to celebrate his birth.


@Dan,

    I very much appreciate your comments. Probably the most sane of the thread. I hold a faith in Christ and like you see the value of both sides.

    We all would respect and value each so much more if those proclaiming constitutional rights would also put effort into learning the civil responsibility they were based on.

    As a Christian I would have no problem with Athiests putting up a Happy Solstice sign on their day. But to ridicule and malign other beliefs during their holiday is below
unkind. It’s nothing less than anti-religious bullying.

  Petty comes to mind, when you can’t articulate your view solely on it’s own merits. Knocking my faith still doesn’t do anything to prove yours - whether that faith is atheism, etc. In fact it makes the your argument weaker.

    I’m sure Rick and company may think they are winning with all the attention, but I can’t tell you how this has re-energized so many people to step up and stand for their own views again.
 
    In my opinion, this whole event has much more to do with some internal struggle he has had had with himself and God (or lack of) than any patriotic campaign on behalf of unchurched America.

    Thanks Dan - you said it well.


“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I’d pegged you an idiot’s dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I’d studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy”
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rear-view mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
I never understood, don’t **** with me, uh-huh


Drove by there on my way home yesterday and noticced there is NOTHING on the court house lawn except a Christmas tree. What happened to all the other goofy stuff that was supposed to be there?


As an atheist in Leesburg, I really don’t want to be at odds with anyone.  I unlike a few on these comments have no problem with those that wish to believe.  I just want to live my life, on my own terms, within the law.  I don’t have anything against religion, when kept seperate from government. I know of at least a few folks where it has greatly enriched their lives (including my mother). 

I’m not anti-religion and I believe the display was in poor taste. However, to suggest that 1st Amendment rights be denied because some people are offended is something that scares the hell out of me.  Where does this stop?  I can get offended at anything if I really want to, and if only non-offensive speech were protected, there’d be no free speech at all.

While I certainly don’t support the message the person who put up the display was trying to convey, I would fight any attempt to deny his Constitutional rights.  As proud Americans, I don’t know how anyone could feel differently.  This story has three jerks, the person who put up the display, the person who ripped it down, and the deputy who failed to enforce the law and protect personal property. I’m personally more enraged by the deputy than anyone else in this story.


God however is someone you have to have faith in because he does not manifest himself to man.
————————————————————-

That’s simply an excuse the clergy uses (on gullible people) since there is no evidence of whatever deity their society is worshiping.

This has been happening since the beginning of organized religion.


Mr Heflin jr, apparently a Christian Youth of Middleburg had his display destroyed by an unidentified woman while a Loudoun Deputy apparently stood by and watched.

In a related incident, Peggy Fox of Channel 9 news was allegedly approached by the same deputy after she apparently witnessed the act and was told that she and her crew were not allowed to film on the courthouse grounds.

Mr Heflin’s display was a commentary on the commercialization of the Christmas season and a source of some controversy. Although details are sketchy as to the nature of this vandalism and the subsequent actions of the deputy, no arrests have been made, but the Sheriff’s Office and the LTM are investigating this matter and the subsequent verbal desist order given to Miss Fox.

This is a piece best left to the police blotter section of the paper as the alleged actions of the Deputy and the Woman were/are CRIMES!

What would make it news, not human interest, is if a Loudoun County Sheriff were actually prosecuted for Dereliction of Duty and Accessory to Vandalism if the evidence supported it. Aside from that, this is just insanity and I’m just as guilty for being blinded by the sensationalism (which I don’t believe was the intent of LTM or Miss Peters).


Kenneth has typed on the internet there for he is someone out there making a point. God however is someone you have to have faith in because he does not manifest himself to man.


Kenneth - I have not observed you, so therefore you must not exist.  I am a people and a scientist.


Yeah Kenneth…no sense in exposing those kids of yours to anything that could save their souls for eternity.

———————————————————-

1. It sounds like a demented deity that would allow people to be tortured for eternity for not believing in and worshiping it.

2. Do you have any evidence of even one soul being eternally saved?

3. Living forever with the angry, genocidal, vengeful god of the bible sounds simply awful. Worse than a celestial North Korea.


A flying spaghetti monster is there? I must go and get a picture now :D

May his noodly appendage bless you


Yeah Kenneth…no sense in exposing those kids of yours to anything that could save their souls for eternity.


Remember - if we ignore this it will go away.  It’s only fun to these people if it generates a response.


Why should me or my kids be constantly exposed to an infantile, bronze-age, middle-eastern superstition/religion?

Worship all you want at home, at church etc, just don’t expose me to this garbage, in the public square or in government. Is freedom from idiotic religions too much to ask?

Personally, I’m simply angry at all the wasted sunday mornings of my youth spent in church when I could’ve been sleeping or watching cartoons.


“I am observable, to other people and to scientists.”

Well, Kenneth, you said it, not me.  And what an observation it is.  LOL!

By the way, are scientists “people”, too?  Because you said, “to other people and to scientists”.  You should have said, “to scientists and other people.”


Now remember, the incoming board of supervisor members are all REPUBLICAN.  Not a single democrate. Nine members, nine republicans.  Sooooooooooo, when a decision in made early next year, remember everyone.  THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS IS ALL REPUBLICAN!


Wow, Kenneth hates Chrsitians and Jews. What’s wrong Kenneth? Did you get bullied as a kid? Mama didn’t love you enough? Merry Chrsitmas Kenneth!!! Cheer up Kenneth,


I am observable, to other people and to scientists.

Imaginary deities are not.

Nevertheless, religious people tend to be less educated and less intelligent than agnostics.


“No one has ever properly explained why religious people should be tolerated”

And here we see that “Kenneth” has articulated why he believes religious people should really not be allowed to live.  After all, if they should not be tolerated, he believes we get rid of them.

I did not misunderstand Kenneth.


Kenneth,

What empirical evidence do we have that you exist?  How do we know that the bits that comprise your comments are not some bizarre electro-mechnical fluke in the Al Gore Internet machine?


No one has ever properly explained why religious people should be tolerated:

1. They are more gullible than agnostics and have lower IQs.
2. Religious people have lower income than agnostics.
3. Agnostics make up the vast majority of scientists.
4. Religiosity tends to be correlated with red states.
5. Religious people make up an increasing proportion of people in Israel, a disgusting nation.

Religious people should never be proud they have “faith”, ever.


@ Feedupdude…...I don’t think the “In God we trust”  will go away.  We still have relegion in politics.


Christians (or any religious people) are gullible morons for believing in such garbage.

Christians: I’m special and god loves me (though there isn’t a single shred of evidence). He loves everyone though he allows children to die painful deaths from cancer.

Also, never mourn for the death of a religious person, since they will live forever in heaven.


I see lots of Buffet Christians who in their desire to appear devout attack a well thought out display showing What YOU have done to this holy day!

FTA: “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”

If you many to be offended look into thyself!  the artist understands more about what this holy day is about then any of you self righteous Pew sitters!

But since critical thought is no longer the realm of the self proclaimed devout hurry down to the Mall Jesus wants you to buy an XBox 360 or a lovely velvet painting of him to celebrate his birth!


@Over It - Then the christian will be mad there is no nativity :D


Common sense dictates that you will never be able to please everyone, there will always be someone or some group offended by anything that is chosen to be erected.  Leave the Courthouse lawn undecorated and all the controversy is over.  It’s sad but it’s just the way it is.


In God we Trust is another McCarthy add on that will go away in the coming decades.


Those freak Atheists can spend money can’t they?

“IN GOD WE TRUST”  right on our dollar bill where it belongs!

MERRY FRIGGIN CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS ALL YOU ATHEIST FREAKS!


Glad to see our board of supervisors lacks the strength or integrity to confront this issue.
Pass it to next year and kick the can down the road again.
Weak Cowards


Aww…. be nice or you’ll be put on the “naughty list”, Bookie!  Merry Christmas!


What are the Vegas Odds on this article getting 500 posts?  Will you fools move on to the next topic?


@Fed up Dude….. No.  God is far from weak.  He could handle all of this on his own.  No problem.  Us, weak Christians, fight these battles because it’s the least that we can do.  You know, there’s an old saying for those who don’t believe…..  “If in the end, I find out that “I’m wrong,” then all I’ve done was live a good life following the rules to harm no one.  If in the end, you find out that “you’re wrong” and there is a God…... well, you know the rest…..


Is God so weak that people need to attack what they think might be criticism? Some people are really poor Christians.


My Jesus, I need You now
May Your grace look my way
To hear You sing over me
Make Your desires and mine the same

Bless me indeed
Open wide my horizons to share Your name
Bless me indeed
Let Your hand keep me from harm and pain
Bless me, Bless me

Lord I cling to Your heart
Your love is what I need
All great things come from You
May Your greatness fall on me

Bless me indeed
Open wide my horizons to share Your name
Bless me indeed
Let Your hand keep me from harm and pain
Bless me, Bless me

The Lord bless and keep you
May His face shine upon you
And be gracious and give you peace

Bless me indeed
Open wide my horizons to share Your name
Bless me indeed
Let Your hand keep me from harm and pain
Bless me
Bless me
Bless me
Bless me
Bless me
Bless me
Bless me…...


Hasn’t anyone seen the movie “A nightmare before Christmas”?  Its Jack Skeleton. The structure behind him was to hold him up.  I think you all have really missed the point.


Jeanne, if anything Jesus’ anger toward the money changers has more in common with this “art” commenting on commercialism than the woman who felt entitled to trash it. 

In fact, I think the story shows us Jesus would see a lot more to be angry about on the “Church Inc.” (which is nearly all of them today) side of the equation.  Something tells me that defending Santa wouldn’t equate to defending Chrisitianity to Jesus.


If you don’t want others to criticize your religion, the answer is simple: don’t display it on the public grounds of a courthouse.

“Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself


“The cross symbolizes MY religion.  No other religious group uses Santa as a symbol for anything.  We use the image of “Santa” to explain the real life story of St. Nicholas, who did exist.  I didn’t see him hanging on a Minorah or a Kwanzaa prayer mat.  It was a cross.  An attack on Christianity.  Is this simple enough for you to follow?  Those who have no faith are just full of hatred and anger.  They want nothing more than for others to be as miserable as them.”—————Mrs.Mcluv thank you for summing this situation up so eloquently. You are 100% correct. This whole thing is an act of bigotry, hate, intolerance and disdain for the Christian religion and traditional American values cloaked in a 1st ammendment arguement. The miserable leftist in this county want to deny us (the majority of citizens) our right to free speach and our right to free religion. We are letting a few ignorant souls take away our freedoms one at a time. This needs to stop. It needs to stop now.


“Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas, who died on December 6, AD 343. Saint Nicholas is well-known by his Dutch moniker, “Santa Claus”. Don’t be fooled by the crass, commercialized image. Saint Nicholas was a stone-cold butt-kicker for Christ and His Church.”

More on this at: http://barnhardt.biz/ (“Santa Claus: Bishop and Pugilist for Christ”)


The displays are all removed—huzzah!  An inability of people to share and tolerate each in kind has resulted in a just action.  I am surprised you children don’t believe in me anymore.

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