It Pays To Complain: Letter to mayor gets results

By Dianne Centa

I live in Portage County, Ohio, and had heard that there was a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn — from comments in the anonymous “Sound off” column of the local paper. Then the paper ran a photo and story about it. I responded with a letter and promptly received a reply from the mayor. What a pleasant surprise!

Dianne Centa

Here was my letter:

Mr. Mayor, It seems from the article in the Record Courier that you are supportive of the presence of a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn.  Let me remind you: it is impermissible for the government (city and county included) to promote a religion or to promote religion over nonreligion.

You say “it’s representative of large numbers of folks in Portage County” and “it’s been accepted by the majority of people.” This is irrelevant. Many of our laws, including the First Amendment, exist to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

Remember that little phrase “separation of state and church.” (Before you object, I know that those words are not in the Constitution, but we all know that the meaning is there.) The nativity scene should be removed, or, if you want to create a mess, you could open up the courthouse lawn as an open forum. 

Let us, please, consider policy for next year and not repeat this violation. — Sincerely, Dianne Centa

Here was his rely:

Dianne, I have no argument with your position.  This will not be a problem next year.  Thank you for your comments. — Frank Seman