Religious Celebrations on Public Property Approved by Virginia Attorney General

Lynchburg, VA – As communities plan for the Christmas season, Liberty Counsel reminds citizens of the opinion issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that Christmas displays and Nativity scenes can be legally exhibited on public property. 

There is a great deal of misinformation about the legality of public displays and celebrations of Christmas. In anticipation of the holiday season, Delegate Bob Marshall requested an opinion from the Virginia Attorney General’s office regarding the legality of nativity scenes. 

In a detailed opinion, Cuccinelli shed light on the original intent of both the United States and Virginia Constitutions in regards to freedom of religion and concluded that the “establishment of religion” clause does not, in fact, compel local governments to restrict religious speech on public property. He further stated that the local governments themselves may recognize such religious holidays as Christmas, as long as religious symbols are accompanied by secular ones. 

In another section of his opinion, Cuccinelli addressed an issue that many Christian employees face throughout the year, dealing with the right of public employees to display religious artwork or symbols in their offices. He concluded that only under certain limited conditions could the government restrict the religious speech of its employees. Liberty Counsel applauds the work being done by the Attorney General of Virginia. 

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Christmas is constitutional. Christmas is a state and federal holiday. To celebrate or acknowledge the holiday season without Christmas is like celebrating a birthday party without the honored guest. Refusing to acknowledge Christmas while honoring every other conceivable holiday may well violate the Constitution.”

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