- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BROOKVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A small Indiana county that hosts a Nativity scene outside its courthouse each year is facing a lawsuit filed on behalf of a group that calls itself The Satanic Temple.

The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1DZwZK9 ) reports the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has sued Franklin County, saying officials violated the Constitution in denying some groups to put up displays outside the courthouse in Brookville. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and The Satanic Temple in Massachusetts.

The foundation and The Satanic Temple filed for permits in February for courthouse displays. But Franklin County denied them, saying its ordinance only allows displays from residents.

The ACLU sued Franklin County in December over its Nativity scene, saying it’s an endorsement of Christianity. The display is a 50-year-old tradition with residents, and it’s paid for and put up by volunteers.

In response to the first ACLU lawsuit, the county passed an ordinance to set forth rules on the courthouse lawn’s use. The ordinance says the lawn can only host activities sponsored by the county, community events, displays, rallies, weddings and other public uses.

The nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for separation of church and state, wanted to put up a display of cutout figures to mark the Dec. 15 ratification of the Bill of Rights, according to court documents. The Satanic Temple wanted to put up a 3-D sculpture, documents say. The groups want their displays to stay up from late 2015 to early 2016.

A message seeking comment was left for the president of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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