When atheists managed to get a Nativity scene banned from the lawn of the Baxter County Courthouse in Arkansas, they probably thought they had struck a blow for secularity.
Instead, one year later, the area now has 61 Nativity scenes on lawns instead of just one. And it’s all thanks to 81-year-old Sue Chrisco.
According to USA Today, Judge Timothy L. Brooks ruled in November of 2015 that the Nativity scene violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. A suit against the display had been filed by the American Humanist Association and resident Dessa Blackthorn, who had been denied permission to put a sign saying “Happy Winter Solstice” on the lawn of the courthouse. (What, no Flying Spaghetti Monster? I’m disappointed.)
According to the Arkansas Times, the county decided to abide by the decision, not out of agreement but to avoid the cost of defending against the lawsuit.
Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass said that “to protect the County from any further liability we will abide by the courts ruling, I will not risk this county or its purse to assume any loss that would be ours if we went to an appeal on our own and lost. We will not appeal this judgement even as much as we disagree with the judge’s opinion and judgment.”
According to Arkansas Baptist News, Sue Chrisco, a member of Sage Baptist Church in a nearby county, came up with the perfect rebuke to the lawsuit. She began a campaign to encourage other churches to put up Nativity scenes on their front lawns.
Chrisco said that she was “very perturbed like everyone else” at the ruling. “So I took it upon myself … and started calling all churches in Izard County” asking them to set up Nativity scenes.
“It’s wonderful to have a relationship with other churches of different denominations,” she said. “We are all Christians, and I love the relationship we can have with others in this endeavor to remember the birth of our Savior.
“I would like to challenge the other 74 counties in Arkansas to join us in this endeavor to put a Nativity scene in the church yard of all churches across Arkansas. Maybe someday it will catch on in other states as well,” she added.
Currently, 61 churches have set up nativity scenes on their lawns. Talk about a perfect rebuke.
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