Harrison Co. supervisors vote to support nativity display - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison Co. supervisors vote to support nativity display

Supervisors heard from half a dozen people before the vote, and all of them were in favor of leaving the display in place. (Photo source: WLOX) Supervisors heard from half a dozen people before the vote, and all of them were in favor of leaving the display in place. (Photo source: WLOX)
Before a full house at its Biloxi meeting, the board of supervisors voted unanimously to keep the nativity. (Photo source: WLOX) Before a full house at its Biloxi meeting, the board of supervisors voted unanimously to keep the nativity. (Photo source: WLOX)
The board also voted to have attorney Tim Holleman represent the county in the event a lawsuit is filed over the nativity scene. (Photo source: WLOX) The board also voted to have attorney Tim Holleman represent the county in the event a lawsuit is filed over the nativity scene. (Photo source: WLOX)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

A nativity scene remains on display at the Harrison County Courthouse in Gulfport. Despite the threat of a lawsuit, county supervisors are following what they say is the overwhelming support of citizens.

The board voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to keep the nativity on display.

You'll recall, the American Humanist Association sent Harrison County a letter, demanding the religious display be removed from the public courthouse.

The controversy was the first agenda item at Monday morning’s meeting, and the opening prayer set the tone for what would follow.

“Things that we would refer to as opportunities are now before us,” said the Rev. James King, who opened the meeting with prayer. “We reach up to you through faith and the word of God.”

Agenda item number 47 was then moved to the top.

“Recent controversy with the nativity scene,” said board president Connie Rockco.

Supervisors then heard from a half dozen citizens, all in favor of keeping the display.

“I'm not knocking other people's belief or what they think or don't think, but don't take away our rights. How long before somebody wants that right there, In God We Trust, taken off the wall,” said Mike Scarborough.

Sugar Stallings said she comes from a background of Jewish and Islamic faiths.

“I think it's a beautiful thing. It taught me a lot about Christianity, about what Christmas is all about and the reason for giving. So, I support the nativity,” Stallings told the board.

Circuit clerk Gayle Parker addressed the board as a Harrison County citizen.

“I'm a Christian, and this country was built on the freedom of religion. The taxpayers didn't pay for the manger scene. That was paid for by the employees of the county, and it's been there for as many years as I can remember,” Parker told supervisors.

Supervisor Joe Meadows checked out the American Humanist Association's website.

“Here is the motto on their website ‘Good without God.’ That's on their website,” Meadows said as several groans were heard in the board room.

Supervisor Marlin Ladner made the motion to keep the nativity on display, and the vote was unanimous.

“The citizens support it. Overall, the citizens support that, and I do too. It's not just because they want it. It's because I think it's the right thing to do,” said Ladner.

“This humanist group just had a case in Arkansas. There, the court said as long as you gave equal time or equal space to all religions or non-faiths, then it was okay,” said board attorney Tim Holleman.

Holleman responded to the American Humanist Association's demands with this letter: 

The Board of Supervisors of Harrison County has considered the demand of the American Humanist Association through you to remove the creche erected by county employees at their own expense in the Harrison Courthouse. The County will not interfere with the County employees expression of their religious faith or with other any other faith or non-faith employees who desire to celebrate their holiday in a manner that does not interfere with County business. See Am. Humanist Ass'n v. Baxter Cnty 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153162 (USDC WD ARK 2015). The Courthouse is a public place and building where members of the public often debate issues we do not necessarily agree with but respect their right to do so. Having reviewed your letter on behalf of the American Humanist Association, I do not agree with most of what you asserted therein but respect your right to do so. I do not intend to enter into a letter debate therefore will not argue the many points I disagree with at this time. I believe the County has complied with the law including the Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.

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    Harrison Co. supervisors vote unanimously to keep courthouse nativity scene

    Harrison Co. supervisors vote unanimously to keep courthouse nativity scene

    Monday, December 14 2015 11:14 AM EST2015-12-14 16:14:46 GMT
    Monday, December 14 2015 11:26 AM EST2015-12-14 16:26:36 GMT
    Supervisors heard from half a dozen people before the vote, and all of them were in favor of leaving the display in place. (Photo source: WLOX)Supervisors heard from half a dozen people before the vote, and all of them were in favor of leaving the display in place. (Photo source: WLOX)
    Harrison County supervisors voted unanimously to keep a nativity scene inside the county courthouse in Gulfport at their meeting Monday morning. The vote comes despite the threat of legal action by the American Humanist Association.More >>

    Harrison County supervisors voted unanimously to keep a nativity scene inside the county courthouse in Gulfport at their meeting Monday morning. The vote comes despite the threat of legal action by the American Humanist Association.

    More >>
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