A Local Community Fights to Keep the Faith

By: Rachel Yonkunas Email
By: Rachel Yonkunas Email

During Christmas season, there are holiday music and holiday decorations. However, a nativity scene in Chipley, Florida attracted attention from a national organization.

It sits outside the City Hall and prompted a reporter for the Washington County News to make some calls. Randal Seyler contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation to challenge the legality of the Christmas display. He stated he just wanted to scratch an itch out of curiosity.

In a written statement, Chipley Mayor Linda Cain said, "Randal Seyler, acting in his capacity as a reporter for the Washington County News, made a comment (overheard by me) that the nativity scene was unconstitutional and should be removed. I asked him to leave it alone."

Shortly after, Mayor Cain received an email from the FFRF. The Freedom from Religion Foundation said their nativity scene is unconstitutional because it is on government property and owned by the city, therefore breaching separation of Church and State. However, the city of Chipley disagrees and said it is not coming down.

The FFRF wrote, "The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a display on government property.” Needless to say, many Chipley residents do not agree with Seyler's actions and do not think an organization outside their community should interfere.

“I would much rather ya'll decide what's good for Chipley than a group that doesn't really believe in anything,” said Richard Burke, a Chipley resident.

“If that person can stop it, it would do a lot to mitigate the feelings that a lot of people have towards that person,” said another Chipley resident.

Residents squeezed into city hall Tuesday night to save this display, but Seyler was a no show.

Mayor Cain said the city added more decorations to the site so the nativity scene is no longer a "sole focus" in hopes to "satisfy the dissatisfied."

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