- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) - Two contests have been created to allow Baxter County businesses and residents to compete for monetary prizes by setting up a Nativity scene after a judge ruled that religious or secular holiday displays could not appear on the courthouse lawn.

A federal judge had ruled that the Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn violated the U.S. Constitution, and that the county must either stop placing any religious seasonal displays on the property or create a public forum allowing displays by all religions and viewpoints.

The American Humanist Association and Mountain Home resident Dessa Blackthorn had sued after requests to place a “Happy Winter Solstice” banner were denied by a Baxter County judge. A Nativity scene had been on the lawn of the courthouse for more than 40 years.

The Baxter Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1OJgHbN ) reports that the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Cameo Club of Mountain Home announced a Nativity scene contest for Twin Lakes Area residents, giving them a chance to win $1,000. A realty company is providing the cash prize.

Cameo Club President Betty Braswell said “I think the (lawsuit) is on the minds of everyone. We normally enjoy a lot of freedoms and then yet, when something like that happens, it sort of makes you think about that. I think it’s a good thing to bring to the public’s attention the real reason for Christmas.”

Seven businesses are sponsoring a contest for Twins Lakes Area businesses. The $1,000 prize will be split between the winning business and a charity of the winner’s choice.

Nosari Home Mortgage is one of the sponsors and owner Chris Nosari said the contest was organized before the federal ruling.

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Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com

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