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Freedom of Religion - Part 3


• A federal appeals court ruled that the placement of a nativity scene in the main lobby of a county courthouse building violated the constitutional prohibition of any "establishment of a religion." Annually, since 1981, the county had permitted the display of the nativity scene, which consisted of traditional figures ranging in height from 3 to 15 inches, including a wooden stable with the infant Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds, various animals, and an angel holding a banner reading "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the Highest). The display was provided by the Holy Name Society of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and included a sign reading "this display donated by the Holy Name Society." Such a practice, concluded the court, violated the constitution's ban on an establishment of a religion, since the display was located "in a public building devoted ...

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  • September 1, 1988