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Religious Displays Will Continue at Loudoun County Courthouse

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The vote by supervisors to continue allowing religious holiday displays came after 8 months of controversy -- a citizens committee decided to ban the displays last winter.
Jonathan Wilson
The vote by supervisors to continue allowing religious holiday displays came after 8 months of controversy -- a citizens committee decided to ban the displays last winter.

By Jonathan Wilson

In Virginia, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted to continue allowing religious holiday displays on the grounds of the county courthouse.

The vote comes after 8 months of debate about tolerance, tradition and free speech.

Last December a citizens committee decided to ban all displays because of concerns about vandalism, damage to the courthouse grounds, and fairness.

But it's become clear that most of the community supported keeping the displays, and today supervisors voted 8 to 1 to do just that.

Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio has been a fiery supporter citizens' right to express their faith on the courthouse square.

"This is a very important victory for free speech, for religious freedom -- for people of strong faith about Christmas and their religious belief," Delgaudio said after the vote. "This is a total victory."

Dulles District supervisor Stevens Miller cast the lone no vote -- he says allowing displays at the courthouse endangers citizens' right to an impartial justice system.

"When we start seeing displays, as we have in other places, by the [Ku Klux] Klan, the American Nazi party, as we have in other places -- who knows -- that's gonna prejudice other people's rights," Miller says.

A short walk from the county board room, Leesburg resident Burke Walker strolled past the courthouse lawn, currently free of any displays.

Walker says eliminating the holiday displays should never have been an option.

"It's been there for years -- and it should stay there for years," Walker says. "It's open ground, public property, they should be able to put whatever they want."

Supervisors say the policy of first come, first serve will continue, with ten spots available for holiday displays.

Board Chairman Scott York says in the past, even displays protesting the Loudoun County Government have been allowed.

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