Ceasefire called in Loudoun's 'War on Christmas' debate
The "War on Christmas" has been postponed to September.
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted this morning to delay discussion about the use of courthouse grounds for holiday displays until their first fall business meeting on Sept. 8. The decision was made following the receipt of a letter from Chief Judge Thomas D. Horne of the Loudoun County Circuit Court.
"I would wish for some additional time for all of our judges to be given the opportunity to consider, should they wish to do so, the impact of the use of the grounds on the operation of their Courts," Horne wrote.
Most of the supervisors agreed that it would be fair to give the judges a chance to voice their thoughts. "I think it would be foolish on our part to act on this before we have heard from them," said Supervisor James Burton (I-Blue Ridge).
Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), an outspoken supporter of maintaining holiday displays outside the courthouse, countered by arguing that the judges are "no more than equal" to the county residents who showed to a heated public input session Monday night to demand action on the issue. Delgaudio was the lone vote against the motion to postpone the debate.
Dozens of residents showed up to Monday night's public hearing about the holiday displays. The first speaker was Rick Wingrove, a Capitol Hill representative for the American Atheists, who argued in favor of restricting religious displays in the public space:
"Religion is the business of churches," he said. Putting up religious displays, he said, "is an improper role for government."
But Wingrove was far outnumbered by residents who came to speak in support of the holiday displays, which traditionally have included a decorated Christmas tree and a nativity scene. Some of those who argued on behalf of the displays said that their right to exercise their freedom of religion in a public space was constitutionally protected, and noted that the displays represent the inclusiveness and diversity of Loudoun county.
Ken Reid, a Council Member with the Leesburg Town Council, emphasized that he welcomes all religions to express themselves in the public square.
"People came to this country ... to work for religious freedom," he said.
Other supporters focused less on the Constitution and more on the Bible, citing Christianity as a defining quality of the county and the country.
"The Bible, even more than the Constitution, is our founding document," declared Keith Williams, a resident of Hamilton.
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