(Patriot.Buzz) – Following an outrageous complaint from an outside atheist group, the city of Toledo, Iowa, is currently grappling with discontent over the removal of a Nativity display from the local fire department.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit advocating for atheists and agnostics, argued that showcasing the Christmas scene on public property is “divisive” and “inappropriate.” In response to their letter, the Toledo Fire Department, acting independently, removed the display to avoid potential legal ramifications.
Toledo Mayor Brian Sokol expressed his intention to restore the Nativity scene at the fire station, ensuring compliance with First Amendment concerns. Sokol lamented the need for this debate, noting that the Nativity has been a fixture in the city for 15 to 20 years and was a donation to the city.
The removal has sparked discussions among the city council about whether to reinstate it or find a permanent alternative location. The mayor acknowledges the possibility of a lawsuit but also notes the community’s overwhelming support for the display.
Justin Scott, founder of the Eastern Iowa Atheists, first brought the display to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s attention. Scott, not a Toledo resident, suggested that instead of removing the Nativity, the city could add non-religious holiday decorations. Despite his atheism, Scott expressed his appreciation for the holiday season.
Becky Faircloth, the daughter of the man who originally crafted the Nativity more than three decades ago, was taken aback by its removal. She stated that the display had been on private property before being moved to the fire station about 20 years ago. Faircloth expressed frustration that the complaint leading to the Nativity’s removal came from a non-local individual.
Mayor Sokol also echoed the community’s concerns about the influence of an outsider’s complaint on the decision to remove the Nativity. At a city council meeting that drew record attendance, community members vocally supported reinstating the display at the fire department. Councilman Joe Boll’s remarks condemning the removal and calling for its return received strong community support.
In addition to the controversy in Toledo, Iowa is facing criticism for allowing a satanic altar display in the state’s capitol building. Mayor Sokol remarked on the coincidental timing of these events, seeing them as reflective of the current societal climate.
The mayor remains committed to finding a solution that respects the First Amendment while aiming to reinstate the Nativity scene at the fire department before Christmas.