WASHINGTON -- The Loudoun County Courthouse's inflammatory Santa Claus, a Christmas display of a skeleton St. Nick hanging on a cross that was torn down last week, was put back up on display.
Santa's decollated head may have been stolen this time, as well.
WRC-TV reports that this year's various Loudoun County Courthouse displays -- in addition to the skeleton Santa, they include a nativity scene and two tributes to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- have touched off a lively free speech debate in this Northern Virginia community:
Leesburg city councilmember Ken Reid told WRC-TV that the people who put up the skeleton Santa display "are trying to ruin the holiday spirit in the name of the First Amendment."
The purported holiday ruiners see it differently:
"Clearly some people from the Christian community do not respect the free speech rights of others," Rick Wingrove, the Virginia director of the group American Atheists, said about the most recent vandalism.
Loudoun County grants permits for the courthouse lawn displays on a first-come, first-served basis.
Patch reports that in light of the spirited community reactions to this year's controversial Christmas displays, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is reconsidering its policies toward Christmas displays on the courthouse grounds. Comments, feedback and skeleton Santa heads are to be sent to the Board of Supervisors, which is expected to begin its deliberations in early 2012.