PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An out-of-state atheist group was expected to face off with officials in a local community this morning over a nativity display at the municipal building; but the supposed showdown ended up being an overwhelming show of support.
Members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation had vowed to protest the placement of a crèche in front of the Ellwood City municipal building. The atheist group from Wisconsin complained that the display is a violation of the First Amendment clause which prohibits the government from endorsing religion.
The group went so far to say that if leaders put the crèche up, they wanted to hang a banner saying: “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Ellwood City’s mayor, however, told KDKA-TV that the town would erect the nativity scene today as planned.
“I can tell you this, I’ll not back down,” Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court added. “If they come, that’s fine. If they don’t come, that’s also fine; but I can tell you this — that nativity scene will be going up.”
As it turns out, the group did not travel to Ellwood City as the town assembled the display; but hundreds of people did show up at the municipal building — in support of the crèche.
“We love the Lord, we’re going to defend it – we’re going to defend the nativity scene,” Joe Cisco, of Ellport Boro said.
“This is our town, this is our building,” Mike Parisi, of Ellwood City, said. “If we want to put a nativity scene up, then it’s our right to put it up.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that standalone nativity scenes on government property are unconstitutional. But the court says nativity scenes displayed with other holiday symbols are okay.
Anthony Court, the mayor of Ellwood City says this nativity scene is just fine.
“They can do what they want, but I know [what] we’re going to do – that’s have a nativity scene for Christmas,” he said.