In a split vote, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors’ Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee (FGSOC) on June 11 endorsed a plan to display a Christian nativity scene, Jewish menorah and other holiday decorations on the courthouse grounds.
A divided FGSOC voted to forward the proposed holiday display as recommended by the Courts Grounds and Facilities Committee (CGFC) to the full Board of Supervisors.
Last month, with a mix of religious and secular symbols, including a crèche (Christian nativity scene), menorah, Christmas tree, holiday greenery, and a display featuring Santa Claus and reindeer. The committee also recommended the size, location and other details of the proposed display.
Broad Run District Supervisor Shawn Williams opposed the motion to recommend the proposed display to the full board.
“I just feel as though it continues to bring negative attention to our area,” Williams said.
“I’m not certainly advocating against Christianity because that’s not what I’m about,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is take us out of the limelight.”
He said that the Supreme Court had twice ruled that “you can’t advance one religious faith over another.”
Williams twice asked CGFC chair Clint Good if his committee’s recommended holiday display items were consistent with advice County Attorney Jack Roberts had provided the CGFC in executive session.
Each time, Good responded that he did not feel comfortable answering that question, but later noted that the CGFC’s recommendation was consistent with an opinion issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
FGSOC chairman Ralph Buona moved that the issue be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors without a recommendation from the committee.
However, Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio objected and made a substitute motion to advance the recommendation that the CGFC had made.
Leesburg District Supervisor Ken Reid concurred, saying that sending the issue to the full board without a recommendation would give the impression that the supervisors were unsure of the work of the CGFC.
“If we don’t [make a recommendation], we’re just going to create a lot of controversy and a lot of people are going to be thinking that the Board is backing off,” Reid said.
With board chairman Scott York absent from the meeting, it appeared that the FGSOC was deadlocked at 2-2-1. Buona then grudgingly voted in favor of Delgaudio’s substitute motion, to “break the logjam.”
The Board of Supervisors will consider the issue at its second business meeting in July.