Virgina County Debates Christmas Displays in July

The Loudoun County (Virginia) Courthouse is once again the scene of a controversy over faith, access and tradition. The fight over what should and shouldn’t be displayed on the courthouse has returned. This time, the issue is not just over the nativity and other religious displays, but displays of any kind on the grounds.

Last winter, the courthouse grounds and facilities committee banned all displays on the site, including a nativity scene that existed during the holiday season for years. That policy was instituted due to an overwhelming number of requests by various organizations to erect religious and non-religious displays on county property.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors overruled that recommendation by giving all community groups access to this site. Now, the citizen’s committee is once again calling for an outright ban.

City Officials Fight Over Snail Ornaments

Some officials in Snellville, Ga., said they believe the town’s snail-themed Christmas ornaments send the wrong message.

Councilman Tod Warner said the 150 ornaments, which the city purchased for about $800 and planned to sell for about $8 each, undermine recent marketing efforts to paint the city as moving “forward,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

Warner said he wants the city to abandon the ornaments, which feature a blue snail in a gold shell with a hat and scarf, and replace them with ornaments bearing the local farmer’s market logo. The city has ordered ornaments with different locally based themes for the past 24 years.

“I don’t think the timing’s right,” Warner said. “We’re really trying to move forward, not backward.”

City Clerk Melisa Arnold said the snail has previously appeared in park literature and local Monopoly game boards.

“We think it’s adorable,” Arnold said. “The snail’s got a 30-year history here. It’s not as prominent as our logo, but it’s always been around.”

Feds Refuse to Let Principals Off the Hook in Candy Cane Case

A federal appeals court has ruled that two Plano elementary school principals can be held personally liable in a lawsuit over a student’s distribution of religious Christmas candy canes.

Principals Lynn Swanson and Jackie Bomchill wanted to be dismissed from the suit, claiming qualified immunity, but a lower court denied their request. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed that ruling on Thursday.

The principal’s attorney, Tom Brandt, says his clients will appeal. He says the principals didn’t practice religious-viewpoint discrimination against any students as is alleged.

Four families with students in Plano schools sued, alleging their children had been banned from handing out pencils saying “Jesus is the reason for the season,” candy canes with cards describing their Christian origin, and other religious materials.