But the focus on Loudoun's infamous annual debate has only heightened in recent weeks after local atheists presented readings from Charles Darwin on the public property — and county Supervisor Kenneth D. “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg) referred to the the group as “terrorists” for their continued opposition to religious displays on the grounds.

The county has hosted an escalating drama as a result of the increasingly eclectic seasonal displays outside the Leesburg courthouse, where traditional arrangements such as a Nativity scene and a decorated Christmas tree have been joined in recent years by displays honoring atheism, Jediism and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

With the goal to end the resulting uproar, the Board of Supervisors voted this year to approve a county-funded holiday arrangement and ban all other unattended displays.

But attended displays are still permitted under the policy, and an application from a local atheist group was approved. On Nov. 16, the group set up a tent with banners and a podium, and more than a dozen volunteers handed out information to passersby and read from the work of Charles Darwin, according to Rick Wingrove, the Virginia director of American Atheists.