Baxter County nativity scene coming down — as is customary | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 3, 2014

Baxter County nativity scene coming down — as is customary

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM

HEADING TO STORAGE: The Nativity scene in Mountain Home.
  • HEADING TO STORAGE: The Nativity scene in Mountain Home.

I wrote yesterday about a humanist group's letter objecting to the nativity scene on the Baxter County courthouse lawn, a tradition of some 40 years. The letter called for the display's removal. The county believes that the display, which includes some more secular symbols, meets legal standards for a government-endorsed display.

It is coming down. I got a note this morning from County Judge Mickey Pendergrass. It said, in responding to my thank-you for an earlier comment:

You are welcome and sir, and I will have to correct one thing I said in my response. The letter actually says that the "creche" display had been up for 15 years or so and I said 20. What I have since learned is that it has been on display on the Baxter County Courthouse house lawn for a minimum of 40 years and probably more. As this is the season for the display to come down, it is now in process of being removed. Not in response to the letter or any other letter, but because the season has passed for it to be displayed. This is normal and is being done without any order or communication from me as County Judge.

Looking forward to a Happy and Prosperous 2014 and the work that the people of Baxter County have elected me to do. I wish the same to you and yours and appreciate your manner of dealing with this issue. 

That punts it at least until next year, I'd judge. The letter was prompted by the county's resistance to an atheist group's interest in placing a message on the lawn, too. The scene was given to the county by local attorney Rick Spencer and he stores it for the county out of season. His wife inherited oversight of the annual seasonal lighting display at the courthouse established years ago by another Mountain Home woman.

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