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Alabama town comes together to defy atheist group’s targeting of Nativity

"Rally at the Manger" in Rainbow City, Alabama (Photo: Rep. Mack Butler)
“Rally at the Manger” in Rainbow City, Alabama (Photo: Rep. Mack Butler)

RAINBOW CITY, Ala. — The perpetually offended out-of-state atheists group that recently targeted an Alabama town’s Christmas parade and football game prayers is back again, this time going after another Alabama town’s Nativity scene.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation recently sent a letter to the mayor of Rainbow City, Alabama, urging him to remove the Nativity scene currently located at City Hall.

“It is our understanding that the town of Rainbow City owns and erects a nativity in front of Rainbow City Municipal Building. We understand that the nativity is the lone holiday display. The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and a baby Jesus, each with a halo around their head,” the letter states, according to the Gadsden Times. “The nativity appears to be constructed of tube lights and stands alone on the city hall lawn.”

The letter from FFRF staff attorney Andrew Seidel goes on to say that it is “unlawful for the town to maintain, erect or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion.”

The Nativity scene was briefly removed as a result of the letter, then quickly returned to the location where it has been erected countless years before without complaint.

“While the Freedom From Religion Foundation states correctly law applicable to religious displays, they are incorrectly applying those cases to the situation in Rainbow City,” said city attorney Jim Turnbach. “Rainbow City does not believe that the Christmas display on city property is in violation of any case law.”

The public support for the Nativity scene was so overwhelming that local church leaders organized a “Rally at the Manger” that was attended by hundreds of local residents in spite of the frigid weather.

“This is ‘Rainbow City,’ a city with a name that indicates (the) promise (from) Genesis 9:13, ‘I will set my bow in the clouds as a covenant between me and the earth,’ State Sen. Phil Williams, who represents the town in the Alabama Senate, said on his Facebook page. “The so-called ‘Freedom From Religion’ foundation is welcome to stay in Wisconsin and avoid being offended.”

Williams also spoke at the rally.

“We will not sit idly by,” he said of the local elected officials. “I stand with you.”

Other local leaders said the atheist organization’s divisive intensions had the opposite effect on the city’s residents.

“The Freedom From Religion Group from Wisconsin has strengthened the faith of our community,” said State Rep. Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City).

“I’m thankful to be a Christian,” added Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun. “I’m honored to be your mayor. And as long as I’m mayor, I’m not removing that manger scene.”

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