Loudoun County residents are battling it out over Christmas displays. Photo: Leesburg Today
A battle over free speech and Christmas is taking place on the Loudoun County courthouse lawn in Leesburg, Virginia.
According to Leesburg Today, resident Jeff Heflin, Jr., put up a holiday display featuring a skeleton dressed as Santa Claus and hanging from a cross. Heflin said in his display application that the piece was a statement about “society’s materialistic obsessions and addictions” and that the focus on gift giving is “killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season.”
Leesburg has a policy allowing for residents to erect various holiday displays in an effort to be “inclusive.” The decision was made after the Loudon County’s Nativity scene was questioned as being unconstitutional. Instead of banning holiday displays entirely, they came up with the alternative plan to issue permits instead.
But Heflin’s display did not sit well, and within hours someone had knocked it down.
Loudoun County Supervisor Ken Reid, who was a part of the rule to allow the displays, told the Washington Examiner that Skeleton Santa was “clearly designed to provoke angst and offend people.”
“Just the way Christians have rallied against anti-Semitism and support Israel, I, as a Jew, will return the favor and help lead the fight to stop this mockery of Christmas and Christian beliefs,” Reid added.
Brooke Rogers, a resident of Leesburg, told ABC she thought the display was “really disturbing” and “[hoped] no children saw it while it was up.”
An atheist display also went up in front of the On-the-Cross Santa, featuring an over-sized satirical letter to Christians from Jesus.
Rick Wingrove, the Virginia director of American Atheists, reportedly sided with Heflin and the other displays, saying if one was going to be allowed, they all should.
“You don’t say free speech and then tear down someone else’s display,” Wingrove said.
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