LANCASTER, Ohio — Seventeen Lancaster firefighters who posed with a city fire truck for a billboard that wished the community "Merry Christmas" thought they were doing something nice.
They got disciplined instead.
The billboard was displayed for about two weeks in December along Memorial Drive, the local stretch of Business Rt. 33 through Lancaster, until city officials ordered it removed.
However well-meaning the sign was, its "Merry Christmas" greeting violated the separation of church and state provision in the U.S. Constitution, city officials said. Governments may not show religious favoritism or partiality, city Law Director Randall Ullom said in a letter to Fire Chief Dave Ward.
"I could have helped them craft a "Seasons Greetings" message that would have protected us," Ullom said Monday. "My issue was the sign."
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