Neighborhood Supports New York Couple's Right to Religious Lawn Statue

February 18, 2002

Source: Newsday

On February 18, 2002, Newsday reported that "when Manny and Kathy Koukoulas moved into their new house in Commack [New York] four months ago, they put out their statue of the Virgin Mary The 3-foot-tall porcelain figure of the Madonna stood in the front lawn... Kathy Koukoulas, 38, was surprised when she shuffled through her mail one night last month and found an official-looking letter apparently sent by a local community organization asking her to remove the statue... 'Perhaps you will understand that this has become an annoyance to your neighbors,' the unsigned letter, dated Jan. 12, said... Now neighbors of all religious backgrounds have come out in support of the couple's right to display the statue and are voicing disgust with what many have called an act of religious intolerance... The Greek Orthodox couple said they will not cave to the sender's request. Instead, they have installed a spotlight to illuminate it... Town of Smithtown Planning Director Frank DeRubeis said the couple has the right to display the statue just as they would any other lawn ornament."