The town of Jay, Florida has had a Nativity scene in front of City Hall for the past 40 years, a clear promotion of Christianity by the local government. When the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent town officials a letter last week explaining this problem, they offered a possible solution — one they suggested to a neighboring town a couple of years ago:
You may remember last year that FFRF notified your neighbor, the town of Century, about their unconstitutional nativity scene. Mayor McCall auctioned off the nativity and several local churches erected it on church property, thereby bringing the town into compliance with the Constitution.
Jay officials decided that would be the best route to go. So this week, they also sold off their Nativity scene:
[Officials] declared a nativity scene “surplus property” and sold it to the [Santa Rosa County Ministerial Association] to be displayed on private grounds.
The cost of the sale isn’t known, but it appears to be a legal workaround to this issue:
“We’d like to thank the ‘wise men’ and women of the town council for doing the right thing, and ensuring that everyone in Jay can visit city hall without feeling like an outsider in December. In addition to divesting the town of a divisive display, their action has added money to the tax coffers and that’s always a plus,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
This is just another indication that atheists are on solid legal footing in these cases. The town attorney knew that the costs of a court battle wouldn’t be worth it, especially when the city was clearly in the wrong. If only other town officials would follow this lead.