Community responds to Christmas nativity scene controversy

WATCH: Nativity scene battle in Brookville, Indiana
Published: Dec. 10, 2014 at 3:11 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2014 at 12:17 PM EST
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BROOKVILLE, IN (FOX19) - For more than 50 years, the Christmas nativity scene has appeared just steps away from the Franklin County Courthouse in Brookville, Indiana.

Wayne Monroe decided to put the scene on a trailer a few years ago and volunteers to set it up every year.

"There was just a group of us at the coffee shop one day that said "well, let's go build it,” said Monroe who says he's never had one complaint about it.

"As far as I know, the town is 110% for it,” said Monroe.

But at least one person isn't. In 2010, a complainant contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis. who now asks the county commissioners every year to take it down.

"FFRF has no problem with religious displays on private property. It's only when the government is endorsing a religious message as is the case here that they are violating the constitution,” says Sam Grover, Staff Attorney for Freedom from Religion Foundation.

"Tell them to take a bill out of their wallet and look on the back of it. It says In God We Trust,” says Monroe.

In response to the controversy, the community has put up nativity scenes all over town including street corners, roofs and even the local grocery store. IGA store manager in Brookville Jim Singer says he hasn't received any complaints either.

"It's always been a Christian community and everybody just gets into it and rallies the support when somebody says you can't do that,” said Singer.

"I don't understand why people are getting so offended by this. It doesn't matter what religion you are you should respect everybody,” said Francis Yee, a 16 year Brookville resident.

But FFRF says when it comes to the constitution majority doesn't rule and it is their job to advocate for atheists who live in communities where their voices are rarely heard.

"Just because the majority of citizens in Brookville are Christian doesn't mean they get to have the government endorsing their religion,” said Grover.

Sisters Joann and Clara say the government isn't endorsing it. They are. Their own community. They say their city of Brookville can get as many letters as an organization wants to send but they will always keep Christ in Christmas.

"There is no reason why people need to come from out of state telling us what we can do and what we can't do. It's our town,” said Joann Henry.

"If the nativity scene bothers you than don't look at it. Merry Christmas and God Bless Us all,” said Wee.

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