CHARLESTON, S.C. - A South Carolina fire station that removed a nativity display following a complaint has put it back up after adding other holiday decorations.

The Charleston Fire Department announced Tuesday that one of its stations has modified its holiday display to comply with U.S. Supreme Court rulings. It has added a menorah, Kwanzaa Kinara, Santa Claus, elves and reindeer.

Chief Thomas Carr Jr. says the nativity scene is one part of celebrating the holiday season.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter dated Dec. 17 asking city officials to remove the display because it promoted one religion over another. It was taken down in response.

Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor says the change is a sham but appears to fall in the law.

Related
Charleston Firehouse Ordered to Remove Nativity Scene

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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if things run contrary to one's religion or lack thereof, or political point view or lack therefore... the people proposing the other point of view are a special interest group.

In the world of politics... we seem to be unable to agree on shades of gray. Liberals condemn moderates and conservatives, conservatives condemn liberals and moderates... and the moderates are screwed either way.

One man's terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

One man's religion makes the other man's beliefs to equate to being godless heathens.

Those who get on the soapbox and preach tolerance for their religion are the most intolerable of all.

Racists come in all colors.

Whatever you celebrate be it the winter solstice, Christmas, Channukah, Kwanza, Festivus, the Great Flying Spaghetti Monsters all you can eat Pasta feast or nothing at all...

Be happy, be safe. and take care of your fellow man ... smile at your co-workers hug your kids and grandkids, pet your dogs and cats, feed the fish, fill the bird feeders and most of all... buy your friendly neighborhood firefighter a beer ( when he's off duty, of course!)

peace out!
Jack, I won't dispute that you think you're trying to be tolerant, and that many of the others with whom you disagree here are very, very intolerant and make no effort to hide it.

"It's great that people believe in those stories from the bible, to me it is irrelevant with regard to the discussion..." When you state that other's beliefs are irrelevant when those beliefs go to the crux of the "freedom" issue for those people, how can you claim that you're being tolerant? What I personally believe is not pertinent to whether other's beliefs are relevant. If they believe it, then it's relevant to them, and they're as entitled to their opinion as I am to mine - or as you are to yours.

My question about the cemetaries stands unanswered by you - Why do you have to be dead before you can show your chosen religious symbol in a public place.

As to the fire station, access isn't the real issue here. It is whether or not the firefighters can express their freedom of religion on duty or not. Muslim and Orthodox Jews have been allowed to keep visible symbols of their religion - full beards - in a decision that went all the way to SCOTUS. How is a creche any different, particularly when it doesn't involve a safety issue like the beards do?

As for FfR, I have nothing against them personally, but their name tells me that they're preaching one kind of intolerance in a faux attempt to impose tolerance on everyone else. Once again, freedom from religion is not the same thing as the freedom of religion which is enshrined in our Constitution. Freedom of religion encompasses the freedom to have any religion you want, or none at all. Freedom from religion is intolerant of - and oppressive of - anyone who wants to freely express their religious preferences, unless those preferences happen to be irreligious.

And Jack, when you say "In so many ways, nothing more than barking dogs." that's frankly not very tolerant, and it's pretty elitist as well. I'm pretty surprised, brother. I frankly still think you're capable of much, much better.

True tolerance includes being tolerant of beliefs that you personally don't share or in which you don't believe. That includes Biblical history and the rights of firefighters to exercise their freedom of religion while on duty or on public property, whether the symbol of that exercise is a Muslim beard or a Christian creche.
Prohibiting everyone from displaying religious symbols in a public place is quashing everyone's free exercise of their religion. Equal prohibition of a Constitutional freedom isn't freedom.

Difference is this display is not in some park, this is not some religious group or church putting on such a display, this is city employees exhibiting a message outside a PUBLIC fire station, which can give the example of the city and or dept endorsing one religion over another. Secondly, if I do recall correctly, being city property, such displays and decorations are at the permission and discretion of those in charge, what they say goes. If allowed and then decided to be removed, this is not against personal freedoms, because such a display is not on one's personal property, but is in fact on the public property of the city.


Let's apply your argument to other Constitutional freedoms. Do we allow the free exercise of freedom of speech by not allowing anyone to say what they think in a public place?

So why is it then that political campaigning is not allowed while on duty, in uniform, and campaign signs not allowed on the public property such as a firehouse, police station, military base, etc? It is freedom of speech to campaign for whichever candidate you want, you can have all the yard signs, bumber stickers you want. You can lit drop, endorse, and yell to the world why this person should be voted in.....but you can't do that in uniform or while on duty, because your message can be misconstrued as the dept endorsement of the candidate. That is the same thing with religious displays, you have the freedom of speech and so forth, but what is done outside a fire station on PUBLIC property can be too easily interpretted as a public endorsement.

Then to rule that NO displays will be allowed can still promote a professional appearance of the station, vs the circuslike atmosphere which can be interpretted as indecision and can take the meaning from some of symbology. Besides, the general public really does not have the same access to a fire station as they do a park, street corner, etc, even though the station is still a public building.

Just like we all own the military equipment, we don't have the same access to them as the personnel assigned and is the reason you don't see religious displays in front of the main gate at a base, Nativities on an aircraft carrier, campaign posters on bases, etc. Being public employees, you also fall under the following of rules established and that means there is a difference between what you can do ON-DUTY and what you can off-duty....and is why personal freedoms are NOT being quashed or taken away.
John, the difference is that if the employees are putting up the display, the government isn't promoting that religion, they're allowing the display. All that it takes to prove that it isn't an endorsement is for the city to not publish a statement of endorsement.

Endorsement requires action; something dynamic. Passively allowing a display isn't dynamic, and it's not an endorsement.

Nike can't claim that I endorse their sports equipment because I bought some of their clothing for a workout routine at work. They have to actively (dynamically/ take an action) seek an endorsement, which is what they do from famous athletes.

The fact that equal oppression has been interpreted as fair doesn't make it right, it just makes it easy. If you don't believe me, check out the true test of bureaucratic power, which is the power to say "yes". Any bureaucrat can say "no" because it's easy and doesn't require any real decision. Only a bureaucrat with real power can say "yes" to something that requires a real decision, like putting a creche back up, even with a couple of extras.

And don't forget, the creche in question was NOT on public property when it was initially removed. It was on private property that adjoined the fire station.

As for "Being public employees, you also fall under the following of rules established and that means there is a difference between what you can do ON-DUTY and what you can off-duty."...that doesn't mean that those rules are always made from a strong legal or even a common-sense foundation.

And after all, the creche was restored and FfR has admitted that it passes even their very restrictive and anti-religion litmus test. They have stated that they don't like it, but that there's nothing they can do about it.

Apparently, Mayor Riley and the Charleston city attorney agree that equal oppression is not allowing "the free exercise therof".

And...political speech is clearly different than religious speech, due to the potential corruption aspects of campaigning on duty. I don't think anyone is going to accuse me of campaigning for any specific god for mayor.
And you still didn't address the fact that you put words in Wade's mouth with the "only" in the above post, despite the volume of your other responses?

I'm just sayin'.
Actually, FfRF is clearly trying to suppress religious freedom. A quick read of their organization's name tells the tale. Freedom from religion is not the freedom of religion. Freedom from religion is not enshrined in our Constitution. Freedom of religion is.

Freedom of religion includes the freedom to have no religion at all. The converse is not true, and FfRF knows it.
Please let the record show that Bru was not referring to Ron's comment with HIS comment.
Art.. that is the problem with this forum format. who really looks at the time frame? If things were in chronological order as they are posted.. it would be a lot easier to keep track!

PS: Happy Holidays, Rock on!
Speaking of rock, if you want to get yourself a little something, pick up the CD UFO 1974 -1983. It rocks.
Merry Christmas and have a rockin' new year.
Ben,
Please don't take my comments out of context. I said, "...it is irrelevant with regard to the discussion..." The issue is whether or not something should be displayed on public property. The fact that someone believes it should be is one thing, how they got there (religious beliefs, biblical stories) has nothing to do with the issue. I don't care how someone believes, it's that they believe that has them thinking a certain way. So again, biblical stories are irrelevant to the issue, to me. And that is not intolerance it's trying to not muddy up the waters of debate with things not germane.

If someone wants to quote scripture and verse to make a theological debate fine but it has no bearing on an issue that needs to be weighed against the constitution. Either it's allowed or not and whispers in someone's ears shouldn't have any bearing. Hopefully those whispers will lead that person to live a good life.

"Freedom from religion is intolerant of - and oppressive of - anyone who wants to freely express their religious preferences, unless those preferences happen to be irreligious." Did you not read what I wrote? They (FfR) are a polar end of the spectrum as are the ultra-conservatives that believe and want to make this nation a "christian" one. Both extremes are needed in order to find a middle ground. Like Ron said, there seems no ability or desire to seek the greys, only black and white.

If you can't understand my reasoning for arlington cemetery there's not much more I can say about it. I'll leave you to figure it out, or not.

You may think I'm being intolerant and dislike my 'barking dogs' comment but after reading so many comments in these discussions it ceases to be a discussion and resembles nothing less than that, barking dogs. Elitist? Perhaps, I'll make no apology for where I live and was brought in, my education, experience, friends and family. To many people those that live in the north east, or have something other than a conservative mind set are immediately labeled elitists. I guess the opposite of that would be redneck yahoo, but I haven't accused anyone of that....yet.

I get the feeling, in your last paragraph that you think that I am not tolerant (based on all before it). I am far more tolerant than you think or know. I have more than a passing familiarity with many different cultures, religions and races, not because I learned it at home or in school, but because my circle of friends is large and all encompassing. I've celebrated with my friends many different cultural and religious events and listened to stories that shame this discussion. Of the many things I am or may be, intolerant is not one of them. That you would say that simply to make your point is....well, neither of the season nor all that tolerant.

But I wish you merry christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
In defense of my friend Jack, who I've admittedly taken to task over some of his comments here, let me say that he's trying to be as fair as he can, based on his personal viewpoint.

For those of you who have posted intolerance and vitreol under the guise of Christianity, please consider the following: from Matthew 22:35-39 KJV

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
(emphasis supplied)

There have been some displays in this discussion that really make me wonder if everyone here has read the above passage.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas in remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ, please keep the above in mind when engaged in discussions with brother/sister firefighters, who are indeed our neighbors.

For those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, may you have a peaceful and enjoyable holiday in whatever way you choose to celebrate - or ignore - it.

And Jack, if I've offended you by calling you out for the content of some of your posts, I deeply and sincerely apologize. I intended to point out that tolerance can and should be broad, but I did not intend to make you feel as if I was singling you out when others were so clearly nasty to you and intolerant of your beliefs. I haven't followed the advice given in Matthew 15:39 very well today. I'll try to do better. WARNING: I sing off key, so the Kumbaya refrain may sound a lot like fingernails vs. chalkboard. :-)

And, apparently, lawyers were involved in interpreting religious observance even in AD 15 or so...
As to the fire station, access isn't the real issue here. It is whether or not the firefighters can express their freedom of religion on duty or not. Muslim and Orthodox Jews have been allowed to keep visible symbols of their religion - full beards - in a decision that went all the way to SCOTUS. How is a creche any different, particularly when it doesn't involve a safety issue like the beards do?

Difference is a general statement vs a personal statement. In the case of the Muslim and Jewish FF's allowed to keep beards, that is also part of their personal beliefs and no way speaks for all members of the department, such as a creche could do. There is nothing stopping a person from practicing their religion as a person, a FF can pray before eating a meal at a firehouse, the Muslim FF can pray at the required times of the day and so forth, but there is nothing saying all FF's do so nor is there a symbol speaking for all.

A creche in front of the station may be the beliefs of some, but doesn't necessarily represent the beliefs of all. Practicing one's religion on duty is one thing, but there is a difference when symbols can be interpretted as the beliefs of all involved.

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