A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) against the City of Green Bay. Liberty Counsel successfully represented the City of Green Bay in a controversy over last year’s Christmas display with a Nativity scene at City Hall. On September 15, David Corry, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, argued the case on behalf of the city.
FFRF did not file suit until after Christmas, once the Nativity had already been removed. Judge William Griesbach dismissed the FFRF’s case, stating that the group does not have standing to bring the claims, which he described as “so fleeting and slight that they do not warrant pursuing in federal court.” Judge Griesbach also noted that there is “a strong incentive for budget-conscious local governments to accede to demands from groups like the plaintiffs that government buildings and other property be cleansed of all signs and symbols of the country’s religious heritage.” In this case, the city refused to be intimidated by FFRF and requested that Liberty Counsel defend the city in the lawsuit.
FFRF uses intimidation and threats of attorney’s fees against local communities who take any action that might acknowledge religion. Its co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, in a threatening letter to an Ohio town, derogatively referred to its Nativity as a “shack” and derisively wrote that the display “jarred” the conscience. The organization also unashamedly unveiled its “Imagine No Religion” billboards at Christmastime. FFRF is the most extreme, anti-religious, separationist organization in the country, claiming that its members are atheists and agnostics.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld government-sponsored Nativity scenes when displayed in the context of other symbols of the Christmas holiday, such as Santa Claus, a reindeer, or a Christmas tree. The City of Green Bay displayed all those elements and even included wreaths with ribbon and lit candles.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, stated, “The federal court gave the City of Green Bay an early Christmas present. Freedom From Religion Foundation is a radical organization that seeks to cleanse religion from America. The fact is that America has a rich religious history, and Nativity scene displays are consistently constitutional.”