Dunwoody, Ga. leaders celebrate religious diversity by banning religious displays

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ban on religious displays

In Dunwoody, Ga., it is absolutely fine to put up a holiday display on city property “celebrating religious freedom (and/or) religious diversity.”

Hallelujah!

But putting up a display on city property that contains a religious symbol?

Prohibited!

The Dunwoody City Council made its self-contradictory ordinance unanimously on Monday, strictly barring religious symbols and displays in common areas of city-owned buildings … in the name of religious freedom.

The decision to regulate religious symbols was based on decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts interpreting the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution in the context of decorating public buildings, city leaders said to WGCL.

According to Dunwoody’s new, freedom-preserving rule, “Decorating using religious symbols is not appropriate in common areas of city buildings unless the decorations are part of a display celebrating religious diversity, religious freedom, or similar subject.”

How this might be pulled off is unclear.

“Staff may place holiday material (secular or sacred) within their personal space and personal offices,” the ordinance proclaims.

The original proposed ordinance included lists of allowable and forbidden items, but city council members decided the lists complicated things. They approved an amended version of the ordinance without the lists.

The city of Dunwoody does not currently sponsor holiday events that feature religious symbols or ceremonies. The annual “Light Up Dunwoody” event, scheduled for Sunday, is sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and is held on private property. It features a Christmas tree lighting and a menorah lighting.

According to Dunwoody spokeswoman Jennifer Leslie Boettcher, last year, city employees decorated the lobby of Dunwoody City Hall with both a Christmas tree and a menorah. In light of the new ordinance, city leaders must now decide whether to decorate the lobby at all for the holidays.

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