Fayetteville Voters Repeal Contentious Ordinance

Yesterday Fayetteville citizens repealed the city’s controversial “nondiscrimination” ordinance by a vote of 52% to 48%, according to KFSM News.

The Fayetteville City Council passed the ordinance last summer in spite of widespread opposition to the measure. Local residents launched a campaign to repeal the ordinance following its passage. Last night, those efforts proved successful.

Duncan Campbell, who helped lead the effort to repeal the ordinance, told reporters,

“We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn’t believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city. It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior. It didn’t accomplish the stated purpose of the ordinance and it was crafted by an outside group, it wasn’t something Fayetteville residents put together.”

The Washington, D.C., based Human Rights Campaign contributed more than $160,000 to keep the ordinance on the books.

Opponents of the Fayetteville ordinance included the local Chamber of Commerce; local ministers and churches; Fayetteville businesses; the editorial staff at Northwest Arkansas Media; area lawmakers; and–clearly–thousands of Fayetteville voters.

We have written repeatedly about the unintended consequences of the ordinance, and I applaud Fayetteville voters for choosing to repeal it.

If you would like to read some of the unintended consequences we found in the ordinance, click here.

Photo Credit: “Old Main from the northwest, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas (autumn)” by Brandonrush – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Baxter County Officials Put Disclaimer on Nativity Scene

Earlier this year we wrote about a letter atheists sent to Baxter County officials concerning a Nativity scene that has graced the courthouse lawn in Mountain Home for years.

This year, rather than stand by their legal ability to celebrate Christmas with decorations that are religious in scope, the Baxter County Quorum Court unanimously decided to put a disclaimer up alongside the Nativity stating the display was the work of private citizens.

The Baxter Bulletin writes,

Under the resolution, the quorum court approved placing the nativity scene on the lawn, accompanied by a disclaimer on a sign that states:

“During the Holiday Season, the County of Baxter salutes liberty. Let these festive lights and times remind us that we are keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom. Whatever your religion or beliefs, enjoy the holidays. This display is owned and erected by private citizens of Baxter County.”

The irony is I believe this disclaimer is more likely to add to the controversy than subtract from it. If one private group is able to put a Nativity display on the courthouse lawn, I would expect other private groups to allege they should be able to put displays on the lawn as well.

We have already seen this at the State Capitol Building in Little Rock: Atheists successfully argued in court their “Winter Solstice Display”should go up alongside a privately-owned Nativity scene on the capitol lawn–even though the atheists’ display has almost nothing to do with Christmas and very little to do with the Winter Solstice.

We keep saying it: Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also an official holiday in this country. Why would our government be free to recognize Christmas as a holiday; give its employees time off from work on Christmas day; put up decorations commemorating Christmas; but not even mention the very event Christmas celebrates? It’s ridiculous.