Courthouse Display Debate Continues; Requests Both Religious, Controversial

December 10, 2009

Author: Erika Jacobson Moore

Source: Leesburg Today

As many predicted during the debate about whether holiday displays should be allowed on the grounds of the courthouse, the controversy did not end with the vote of the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday and what started as a request to place a Christmas tree on the courthouse lawn has branched out in recent days. Some of the requests that have been sent in from individuals and groups for other religious and non-religious display may test how far the county is willing to go to protect claims of First Amendment's rights to free speech.

Seven requests have been submitted to the county in recent weeks, most of them after the Dec. 1 decision by the Board of Supervisors to overturn a decision of the Courts Grounds and Facilities Committee to ban all displays on courthouse property this year. Along with the requests by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1177 and the Knights of Columbus Holy Family Council of Leesburg to put up a Christmas tree from Dec. 10 to Jan. 1 and an application from Dennis Welsh to display a crche, or Nativity scene, through Jan. 3, requests have come in from Loudoun Interfaith Bridges, a Leesburg resident to do a banner provided by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and a Sugarland Run resident to display a parody of the "12 Days of Christmas."