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Christmas Victory for Religious Expression in Public Square


Shaheryar Gill

December 1, 2015

2 min read

Free Speech



Every year around Christmas time the ACLJ receives requests regarding the legality of Christmas displays on public property. Every year atheist organizations threaten public officials with lawsuits if they allow Christmas displays on public property.

This year again, the fight against Christmas displays has begun. The City of Wadena in Minnesota decided to stop displaying a Christmas holiday display in one of its parks after it received a threatening letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

Concerned by the City of Wadena’s decision, a resident of the city asked city officials if he could use an area (a bandstand) in a city park that has been designated for public discourse for his family Christmas gathering in which he would like to display his Christmas decorations that included a nativity scene. The city officials denied his request.

After he contacted the ACLJ, we reviewed the city’s bandstand usage policy and provided information regarding religious displays and equal access to public facilities for religious use to help facilitate the discussion between the individual and city officials regarding his right to use the bandstand.

We also advised the individual to resubmit his request so that it is narrowly tailored to the city’s policy that does not allow citizens to leave any materials at the bandstand at night time. He resubmitted the updated request and the city officials agreed, allowing him to use the bandstand for his family Christmas gathering.

This is once again an important victory against angry atheists attacks on Christmas and religious expression.  We will continue to work to defend religious free speech from unwarranted attacks this Christmas season.

Our informational memo regarding religious holiday displays is available here, and our informational memo regarding equal access to public facilities for religious use is available here.

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