One Shelton man won a legal battle against the city for the right to place a Winter Solstice sign in the middle of Huntington Green for the holiday season.
Jerry Bloom sued the city of Shelton after being told he couldn’t put up his Winter Solstice sign in Constitution Park next to Post 16’s annual display of trumpet-playing angels.
Post 16’s annual display of angels has been taken down this year and reindeer have taken its place. Mike Kellett of Post 16 explained that most of the lightbulbs in the older decorations were burnt out so they decided make the replacement.
The Winter Solstice sign now stands on the far side of the Huntington Green and reads, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
The above message and battle for the right for it to be displayed elicited a balance of reactions from residents.
Some people commented on the sign on Facebook claiming it was offensive, excessive and going against what the holiday season stands for.
Bloom couldn’t have disagreed more.
“They had created in a public park, a public forum, in which the American Legion was able to express its view of Christmas, the Christian depiction of angels, and the town had denied me a similar venue,” said Bloom. “That was censorship and a violation of the First Amendment.”
He explained that the settlement with the city has been in the making since last year, when he approached and was denied by the Board of Aldermen.
“When they denied my application last year, I consulted with the American Civil Liberties Union, who then referred me to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who are based in Wisconsin,” said Bloom.
The FFRF attempted to persuade the city to reconsider, but failed, according to Bloom. They agreed it was a form of censorship, so a lawsuit against the city developed.
“We ended up suing them until they settled, when they granted me the right to place the banner. However, they stated that they do not allow signs in Constitution Park, so they assigned me to the Huntington Green,” said Bloom. “My issue was that there is an overtly religious display in Constitution Park in front of the flagpole which is unconstitutional.”
Bloom said the settlement was “satisfactory.”
He said he looks to continue this tradition within Shelton for years to come, but it gets “tricky” because the city continues to endorse religion.
“They settled by mutual agreement, so to speak. Had they gone to court they most definitely would’ve lost, and a court order would’ve prevented them from doing anything similar in the future,” said Bloom. “They have erected at the entrance to the Police Department a sign that reads, ‘God bless Shelton Police.’ By having this proclamation of this sign, especially in front of the police department, the city is still endorsing religion, which is another violation of the First Amendment.”
Bloom said he is currently awaiting progress on this separate matter regarding the sign at the police station. Stay with The Shelton Herald to learn more as this story develops.