Lawsuit averted over nativity scene at the Harrison Co. Courthou - - The News for South Mississippi

Lawsuit averted over nativity scene at the Harrison Co. Courthouse

This is the new sign posted inside the Harrison County Courthouse. (Photo source: WLOX News) This is the new sign posted inside the Harrison County Courthouse. (Photo source: WLOX News)

Harrison County doesn't have to worry about getting sued over a nativity scene at the Harrison County Courthouse because of a new display that's been put up by the American Humanist Association.

The sign reads, "Happy Holidays from Mississippi Gulf Coast Humanist, Atheist and Free Thinkers Association." It's on display in the Harrison County Courthouse just a few weeks after a humanist group threatened to sue the county if the nativity scene wasn't removed. Ronald Parker of Gulfport didn't want to see the nativity taken away and also believes the sign has a right to be displayed.

"I don't like that sign, but I can't stop them from putting it there," said Parker. "I don't have to look at it just like they don't have to look at that."

The group threatening a lawsuit sent out a news release Tuesday claiming victory. As a result of the sign being allowed in the courthouse by county officials, they won't be suing.

Attorney for the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, Tim Holleman, said the sign being displayed wasn't the result of a comprise, but the county simply granted a request for the sign to be put up.

"It certainly was not done because of their threat," said Holleman. "The courthouse is as I said before, a place where all citizens can express their views and beliefs."

Holleman added the county would welcome any group to express holiday greetings.

"Holiday beliefs whatever they might be are not offensive and as long as they're not offensive they'll be permitted to do so," said Holleman.

While Karibbean Jackson of Gulfport doesn't find the displays offensive, she doesn't think either is necessary.

"I think if they wanted to take that down they shouldn't have put this up," said Jackson. "Why not just take all of it down and then we wouldn't have these problems."

Holleman said other religious displays could be put up in the courthouse, but with a condition.

"If it became disruptive of the county business then there would have to be a policy developed to keep it from being disruptive of the county business," said Holleman. "The county courthouse is there for the citizens to conduct business of all faiths and non-faiths."

The statement released by the humanist group threatening the lawsuit said they hope that county officials will continue to grant equal access to other non-Christian groups.

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