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Dunwoody leaders vote to ban religious displays

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    DUNWOODY, Ga (WGCL) — Dunwoody City Council voted unanimously Monday night to prohibit religious symbols and displays in common areas of city-owned buildings.

The decision to create an ordinance on religious symbols was based on decisions of the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts interpreting the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution in the context of decorating public buildings,” city leader said.

According to Dunwoody’s new ordinance, “Decorating using religious symbols is not appropriate in common areas of city buildings unless the decorations are part of a display celebrating religious diversity, religious freedom, or similar subject.”

“Staff may place holiday material (secular or sacred) within their personal space and personal offices,” the ordinance states.

Originally, the proposed ordinance included lists of allowed items and prohibited items, but in the end, city council members felt the lists only complicated matters. They approved an amended version of the ordinance that did not include the lists.

The city of Dunwoody does not currently sponsor any holiday events that feature religious symbols or ceremonies. The annual “Light Up Dunwoody” event, scheduled for Sunday, is sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and is held on private property. It features a Christmas tree lighting and a menorah lighting.

According to Dunwoody spokeswoman Jennifer Leslie Boettcher, last year, city employees decorated the lobby of Dunwoody City Hall with both a Christmas tree and a menorah. In light of the new ordinance, city leaders must now decide whether to decorate the lobby at all for the holidays.

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