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Loudoun Residents Weigh In Before Vote On Religious Displays

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By Jonathan Wilson

In Virginia on Wednesday, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is expected to take a vote on whether they'll continue to allow religious holiday displays on the grounds of the County Courthouse.

On Tuesday night, citizens got another chance to weigh in on the debate. County leaders in Loudoun have gone back and forth on the issue since last December.

That's when a citizens' committee in charge of courthouse grounds policy first decided to ban all holiday displays there.

At the final public hearing before today's expected vote, more than 60 speakers signed up to add their two cents. Most urged supervisors to keep the long tradition of holiday displays at the courthouse alive.

Some, such as John Jaggers, suggested the controversy was just another attack on Christianity.

"The turmoil gives opportunity for people who are anti-Christian bigots, to sit there and slander our faith, because we choose and ask, respectfully, to express it in the public square," says Jaggers.

But the opposing view isn't voiced solely by non-Christians.

Don Prang is a minister at St. James United Church of Christ, in Lovettsville.

He says Christmas displays have little to do with the real meaning of the holiday, and he feels the uproar about the courthouse is just politics.But he also says he knows his view isn't a popular one in Loudoun County.

"Oh, I think I'm probably in the minority here," says Prang. "But, so was Jesus."

Virginia's Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, has even weighed in on the issue after a request from State Delegate Bob Marshall.

Cuccinelli says Christmas displays are okay, as long other religions are represented, and it's clear that the county itself isn't communicating a religious message. bject id="7323" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=8,0,0,0" height="394" width="448">

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