Friday, December 9th, 2016

County Exec Doesn’t Repeat Innkeeper’s Mistake

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Courthouse nativityNote: One of my favorite organizations, the First Freedoms Foundation, passed along this happy Christmas story that I thought I would share with you. Merry Christmas everyone!

County Exec Doesn’t Repeat Innkeeper’s Mistake
 

Thanks to Patrick and Jackie Malone and quick action by First Freedoms Foundation and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, Christmas will get its “day in court.”

After the Foundation contacted his office recently, Executive Walker made sure that Pat and Jackie were allowed to place a lovely manger scene in the Milwaukee County Courthouse, just in time for Christmas.

Jackie Malone works at the courthouse as a court reporter, and noticed last year that Hanukkah and Kwanzaa themes were on display, but nothing for Christmas. She contacted the facilities manager, but was told there was “no room.”

That didn’t stop the Malones. This year, Patrick and his brother built a lovely manger scene. Jackie started a “Courthouse Christmas Club” and contacted First Freedoms Foundation. “All it took was one phone call,” said Foundation general counsel Mike Dean. “We’re pleased the Executive didn’t repeat the innkeeper’s mistake – this year there was room for the Christ child.”

“It’s great to have a public official that understands the role of religion in our nation’s history and the free exercise rights of all citizens to share their faith in the public square,” Dean said. “For too long, courts have acted as if the Establishment Clause somehow requires selective discrimination against religious viewpoints, and against Christianity in particular.”

“Pat and Jackie didn’t want to take over the inn, they just wanted a place to express their Christian faith the same as everyone else. The courthouse has been a traditional place for expression of diverse views, and we’re pleased Mr. Walker took quick action to make sure that Christians weren’t banned from the public square.”

Christmas Tree

First Freedoms Foundation is no stranger to “Christmas wars.” In 2001, First Freedoms sued Gov. Scott McCallum’s administration for banning religious ornaments from decorations the public was invited to donate for the state “holiday tree.”

Air Force Sgt. Wayne Bird was a jet fighter mechanic and water color artist headed for Kuwait shortly after 9/11 to prepare for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before he went off to war, Sgt. Bird wanted to donate the ornament he’d painted with an American flag and “God Bless America.”

But Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation had so cowed state officials with baseless threats that they issued a directive, “No religious ornaments allowed.”

When First Freedoms sued in federal court, officials quickly withdrew the order and hung religious ornaments on the state tree, including Sgt. Bird’s. First Freedoms’ action made national news, and began a movement taking legal action to reverse the trend begun in the 1960s of excluding Christ from Christmas in public displays.

Anyone wishing to “join the Club” and help defray Pat and Jackie’s costs for the display can make small donations at http://milwaukeecountychristmasclub2009.chipin.com/milwaukee-county-christmas-club.

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