The town of Bucksport has pulled a Christmas nativity scene from public property after receiving a complaint from an atheist activist who lives in Litchfield.
Tom E. Waddell, the local chapter president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, complained to Bucksport officials about the depiction of sweet baby Jesus and asked them to also accommodate his request for a poster showing the Bill of Rights.
The affray was first reported on by Ethan Genter of the Bangor Daily News.
When city officials received the complaint and request from Waddell, they quickly consulted with the town’s attorney, who advised them that a lawsuit might come if they didn’t accommodate the atheist, Genter reported.
City officials told BDN that the nativity scene was removed only temporarily while they work to find a compromise that ensures the 75-year tradition can co-exist with the Litchfield resident’s demands.
The image Waddell wants displayed by the town shows renowned libertine Benjamin Franklin, the Statue of Liberty, noted deist Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton standing over the Bill of Rights in a cradle.
Waddell, who is originally from Massachusetts, has previously been invited to give “secular” invocations in the Maine State House. He has a Medium page where he blogs about abortion and how reading the Bible made him not believe in God.
The town of Bucksport was probably wise to accommodate Waddell, even if he’s originally “from away,” as a recent Supreme Court case suggests municipal governments that offer up public space for private displays must entertain all comers.
In that case, the city of Boston was forced to pay $2.1 million to religious liberty advocates who sued after the city refused to display a religious’ group’s flag in a public space where hundreds of other organizations’ flags had flown over the years.
The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh.