On FOX News Live December 16, Liberty Counsel president and general counsel Mathew D. Staver claimed that a former Florida mayor was hostile to Christianity because he was “apparently Jewish.” Staver's claim followed a December 15 court decision granting an “emergency injunction” requiring the town of Bay Harbor Islands to include a nativity scene in its holiday display until the court rules on the constitutionality of the town's holiday displays. In fact, former mayor Isaac Salver and the town council maintained that including the nativity scene violates the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause, instead deciding to use symbols not deemed religious -- examples included a Christmas tree and a Chanukah menorah -- in their holiday display.
From the December 16 edition of FOX News Live:
MAT STAVER: This case, really, talks about the essence of Christmas. Christmas is still constitutional. What happened in this case, it appears, is that the mayor had absolute hostility toward the religious, specifically the Christian, viewpoint of the nativity scene. In this case, the mayor was persistent over several months. The city council cancelled meetings, walked out when this issue came up, in fact, the mayor--
BRIGITTE QUINN (anchor): Mat, why was he hostile?
STAVER: Well, the mayor is apparently Jewish. Unfortunately, this looks like the mayor's particular vendetta against the nativity scene.
As the Miami Herald reported on December 16, the injunction requiring the town to include a nativity scene in its holiday display is in place until the constitutionality of the display is determined: "[U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia] Altonaga granted an emergency injunction allowing [plaintiff Sandra] Snowden to display a nativity scene for now until a decision is rendered on Snowden's larger suit, which seeks to find [the omission of a nativity scene in] the town's decorations unconstitutional. The town will file a stay to postpone the judge's order."
The Liberty Counsel describes itself as a “nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family.” In a December 2004 column for the National Liberty Journal, Staver claimed that the 2004 election was a “mandate on marriage,” and that "[t]he most important issue for voters nationwide was marriage and morality. By morality, I mean abortion and embryonic stem cell research, which destroys a developing human life." In fact, according to a post-election Gallup survey (conducted November 3-December 12), voters ranked moral values only fourth among important issues; as Media Matters for America has noted, other polling data also contradicts Staver's claim. Reverend Jerry Falwell has said of Staver: “I can think of no greater work being done right now in America for the sake of our religious freedom and Christian heritage than that being done by Liberty Counsel and its founder and president Mathew Staver.”