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Oklahoma City government employees told: “No Christmas this year”

ADF attorneys file suit to stop city’s unconstitutional ban on city employees’ right to publicly celebrate Christmas
Published On: 10/18/2017

OKLAHOMA CITY — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday to halt an unconstitutional ban by Oklahoma City officials on the right for city employees to publicly celebrate Christmas at their workplace.

“The attacks on Christmas are simply part of a larger war being waged on anything and everything Christian,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Byron Babione.  “It’s ridiculous that city employees are being told that they cannot display symbols central to their faith during the Christmas season.”  ADF allied attorney Brent Olsson, who is also representing the employees, said: “Allowing employees to exercise their right to express their faith is not a violation of the First Amendment.”

On Nov. 15, Oklahoma City department and division heads received a memo from the city manager.  The memo stated that city employees were forbidden to display items in their workplace such as “nativity scenes, troparia, cherubs, angels, crosses, and any other symbols of clear religious significance.”  The memo added that “appropriate” displays included “evergreen trees, snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen, and Santa Claus.”

The policy also extended to a yearly Christmas party organized by Christopher Spencer, a city employee.  At the party, employees annually presented gifts to a family in financial need.  The party also included a shared Christmas dinner.  Spencer was told that the party should be relocated to an offsite location and employees who chose to attend would have to use vacation time to do so.

“It’s our hope that the city will quickly realize that they are in error in censoring the First Amendment rights of its employees to publicly celebrate Christmas,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Amy Smith.  “ADF is prepared to defend people of faith against attacks such as these, wherever they may occur.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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