Courthouse lawn will hold mix of religious, secular displays aft - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Courthouse lawn will hold mix of religious, secular displays after Nativity scene lawsuit

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The lawn of the Franklin County courthouse will allow a mix of secular and religious displays this holiday season after a legal battle over a Nativity scene.

Franklin County Commission passed an ordinance which allowed any group of any viewpoint to place a display on the lawn of the courthouse, which is considered state property.  

A lawsuit filed last December by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation argued the privately owned Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn violated the First Amendment because it represents an endorsement of religion.

The lawsuit was dismissed and Franklin County Commissioners decided to rent $25 lots to any resident who wants to put up a display.

“It's a more formal way of doing it,” said Franklin County Commissioner Tom Wilson. “We never had a problem before. Anybody that asked to use the lawn we always let them use the lawn”.

So far, the county has rented out 9 different lots. The mixture of displays will include a manger holding the Bill of Rights and a winter solstice display, the AP reports.

Wayne Monroe, the owner of the original nativity scene at the center of the controversy, says he's never met Steve Kristoff, the man responsible for the lawsuit, but does want to talk to him.

"Well I'd like to know what he's thinking doing all of this stuff,” said Monroe.

Some say people should be allowed to put what they want, while some others just want to make sure the nativity scene will be here for years to come. 

I believe that everybody has the freedom to do and believe how they want and I also believe that we live in a country where freedom is one of the most important things to this country," said resident Ryan Ison. 

We have reached out to Kristoff for comment.

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