Citizens of Brookville, Indiana have placed Nativity scenes all over town in response to an atheist group who threatened a lawsuit if the Christmas scene was not removed from public property.
Local news channel WXIX reports that for over 50 years, the statues of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus have been displayed next to the Franklin County Courthouse in the predominantly Christian town.
"We think it represents the majority of the beliefs of the people that live here," explained resident Anne Chenault.
However,for the past three years, a Wisconsin-based atheist group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation has sent letters to commissioners demanding the Nativity scene be taken down, arguing that the local government is endorsing one religion over others.
"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.
Despite threats of a lawsuit from the FRF, the community chose to keep Christ in Christmas, putting put nativity scenes all over the town--including street corners, roofs, and the local grocery store.
"I don't understand why people want to take away our love of Christ from us, its his birthday, we need to celebrate that and remember that," resident Ron Anderson said. "When you start taking (rights) away we lose track of who we are as American citizens."
The Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm that advocates for citizens' right to freely express religious faith in the public square, say this issue is nothing new.
"These nativity displays represent classic free speech and the free exercise of faith by private citizens in the public square," explained Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Society.
Brookville residents say they will continue to display Nativity scenes as it will take "a lot more than some outfit from Wisconsin" to win the war on Christmas.
"If people don't like the look of it I think they can look the other way, or don't look at all," resident Wayne Monroe told WXIX.
"It's been a tradition here for many, many years and I hope it's for many more years. I think we deserve the right to put up what the community wants and I don't think anybody else should tell us what to do," he said.
There will be a candlelight walk Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m. to rally around the Nativity scene.