A federal court ruled that a Michigan family has a constitutional right to display a public Nativity scene, marking an end to a four-year court battle that started when militant secularists objected to the 60-year-old tradition.
“Every December, militant secularists declare war on Christmas celebrations,” said Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center. “This is one battle they lost.”
The Law Center represented John Satawa, of Warren, Mich. Since 1945 his family had erected a Nativity display on a public median in their town.
In 2008 the Macomb County Road Commission received a threatening letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation – claiming the display violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
The following year, the county denied Satawa’s Nativity permit because it “displays a religious message.” That denial led to a four-year court battle that culminated with a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the display.
A spokesman for the roads commission told Fox News they will not appeal the ruling – and will grant Satawa a permit for the display.
As far as the county is concerned – the case is closed.
“We’re very pleased for him and very pleased we were able to win a battle in this war on Christmas,” Thompson said.
He said the court victory marks a major defeat for the Freedom From Religion Foundation – a group he called “militant secularists.”
He said the group targets small towns – searching for any public displays of religion.
“It goes around looking for Christian symbols they can attack,” Thompson said. “They send threatening letters to towns.”
Thompson said their victory should serve as a beacon of hope for communities across the nation facing threats from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“If you fight – you can win these court battles,” he said.