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Monday, December 26, 2005

New York Attorney Recipient of Becket Fund’s 2005 Ebenezer Award

Attorney Mitchell Pashkin of Huntington, New York has the dubious distinction of “winning” The Becket Fund's Ebenezer Award for 2005. The annual award is a coal-stuffed stocking sent by Federal Express to the person or entity responsible for the most ridiculous affront to the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday season.

Pashkin became a leading “Ebby” contender when he filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Huntington’s neutral, harmless holiday display, which consists of a Christmas tree, menorah, crèche, and Peace on Earth sign.

Though Pashkin recently withdrew a request for immediate removal of the nativity scene and menorah, he vows to pursue the lawsuit after the holidays. The Becket Fund has offered to represent Huntington — free of charge — in defending against Pashkin’s suit.

“Pashkin is really pushing the envelope,” stated Jared N. Leland, Spokesman and Legal Counsel for The Becket Fund. “Huntington’s display of Christmas, Hanukkah, and secular symbols is about as diverse and inclusive as a display can be this time of year,” Leland explained. “Bah Humbug, Mr. Pashkin!”

“Pashkin’s suit is so hopelessly ‘80s,” added Becket Fund President and General Counsel Anthony Picarello. “The Supreme Court upheld two, very similar, diverse holiday displays back then. When will it finally sink in that combining a crèche, a menorah, and a tree with secular elements satisfies the constitution?”

Among those that received “dishonorable mention” was Charleston, South Carolina’s Berkeley High School that recently changed the name of its seasonal pageant from Miss Merry Christmas to Miss Winter Wonderland.

The Becket Fund is a nonpartisan, interfaith, public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 11 years, the firm has represented Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and others in a variety of cases involving federal and state constitutional law.

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