A Christmas display outside the courthouse in Leesburg, VA featuring Santa Claus crucified on a cross was torn down by an angry resident in spite of arguments by elected leaders that the display was Constitutionally-protected free speech.
“I am shocked that the county would allow such a thing as a crucified Santa on the courthouse lawn,” Elizabeth McGuirk, a mother of three told Leesburg Today. She it would “seriously disturb my children.”
“Disgusting, outrageous and absurd,” Supervisor-elect Ken Reid told MyFoxDC.com. “This fellow crossed the line. I’m worried about kids seeing this at the parade Saturday.
The display was erected by Jeff Heflin, whose application was submitted and approved by the Loudon County Board of Supervisors.
“The county would not dismantle it, the county gave it permission for it to be there,” Supervisor Steven Miller told the local newspaper. “We had the same thing happen a year ago when Ed Myers put up some vulgar parody lyrics of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Well those came down within an hour and that’s vigilantes.”
The Loudon Times reported that Heflin described his display as “art work of Santa on a cross to depict society’s materialistic obsessions and addictions and how it is killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season.”
“It was meant to show the over-commercialization of Christmas,” said Jonathan Weintraub, of the NOVA Atheists. “I agree. It is over commercialized. People should keep their hands off the display, all the displays.”
The display was torn down by an unidentified local resident, according to the Loudon County Sheriff’s Dept. So far, no one has been arrested.
Gisela Bresler wrote a letter to the county leaders condemning the exhibit, calling it a mockery that dishonors the Christian religion.
“As I was coming to the Courthouse this morning, I was confronted by one of the most repulsive and disgusting displays of the misuse or our free speech that I have ever had the misfortune to witness,” Bresler wrote in a letter published in the Loudon Times. “In front of the Old Courthouse building there is a display of a cross with a Santa suit draped over it and the Santa has a skull for a face.”
“Perhaps the person or organization that displayed this monstrosity wants to make a point that Christmas is dead, or that Christ is dead,” the letter continued. “The point is that free speech is a two-way street. It is fine for whoever decided to display this obnoxious thing to have it displayed, but it is also correct for those who are insulted by it to speak against it. I am, therefore condemning this and I am repulsed by the fact of it.”