By Tammy Mutasa & Brian Wiechert
A Brookville, Indiana, Christmas display at the center of a federal lawsuit is getting a new look.
This year, the Founding Fathers and Lady Liberty stand guard over the Bill of Rights, which sits in a manger. The new display joins baby Jesus, who lies in a nearby Nativity at the Franklin County Courthouse.
The new additions were erected this year in response to a federal lawsuit. In 2014, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group, filed the lawsuit arguing that the privately-owned Nativity scene outside of the courthouse violates the First Amendment because it “represents an endorsement of religion and has the principal effect of advancing religion.”
The Nativity scene has been displayed in Brookville for more than 50 years.
Following the lawsuit, county officials changed the policy, allowing any display, religious or not, to appear on the courthouse lawn. That ordinance was enacted after the lawsuit was filed.
The ordinance requires those wanting to erect a display to apply for a permit. Officials said applications will be approved, regardless of the display it promotes.
The county has approved nine displays so far, one being Ben Franklin, George Washington and the Statue of Liberty fawning over the Bill of Rights.
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