Controversy over nativity scene at Grant Parish Courthouse, ACLU condemns display

Published: Dec. 21, 2016 at 11:02 PM CST
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Most of us are used to seeing nativity scenes during the holiday season, but one group is concerned about a display in front of the Grant Parish Courthouse.

The ACLU out of New Orleans voiced their concern in a letter this week to the Grant Parish Police Jury.

"The right of god and who we believe in and the scenery is our business," said Gay O’Neal, who works in Colfax.

Controversy has sparked in the small town of Colfax over a nativity scene in front of the Grant Parish Courthouse.

It all started Tuesday when the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Grant Parish Police Jury saying in part, "the constitution doesn't allow such a scene in isolation."

"It seems these days it is typical for everyone to rush to want to be offended," said Jay Lemoine, Grant Parish District Attorney.

The letter also goes on to say the scene needs to be accompanied by symbols such as reindeers or Santa, but Lemoine said they have that covered with a Christmas tree inside the courthouse.

After the letter came out, a new addition showed up next to the nativity scene. A small box with paper taped to has the words “secular display” with Santa and a reindeer under it.

"Somebody in a bit of humor to lighten the mood they decided to put up a secular display next to the nativity scene," said Lemoine.

The nativity scene has been a holiday staple for the town and some locals said removing it would be the problem.

"The offense would be if the religious symbols were taken out of Christmas," said Lemoine.

"You don't need to take God or you don't need to take Jesus or anything else away from anybody," said O’Neal.

But they also said they'd be inclusive.

"Freedom of speech, I couldn't buck anything else people are doing because I want to be able to do what I want to do," said Wade Rachal, Colfax resident.

"I think to each their own and I think they need to stop and realize God put us on this earth equal," said O’Neal.

And for the future of this nativity scene.

"Nothing, we are going to maintain this display through Christmas and I'm sure next year we will put up another display," said Lemoine.