Becky Faircloth’s father built a wooden nativity scene some 30 years ago. For the past 20 years it’s been on display in front of the fire department in Toledo, Iowa.
But the Baby Jesus won’t be on display this Christmas season and neither will Joseph or Mary. City leaders ordered the firefighters to remove the nativity after someone complained.
“Friday morning I went to the City Hall to see who had asked for that to be taken down, and I was given the letter and the name of the person,” Faircloth told television station WHIO. “It was found out that this person doesn’t even live in our community. This person is from another community not even connected to our county.”
Mayor Brian Sokol told the Times Republican that the Nativity has been up for as long as anyone can remember without any controversy.
“It’s unfortunate that we even have to have this discussion. It was donated to the city and has been up every year for 15 to 20 years,” Sokol told the newspaper. “It will be a discussion item for the council to decide if we put it back up or permanently relocate it… We have received a lot of positive comments and the feedback has been (to) keep it up. A lawsuit could be a possibility, but unfortunately, it seems too many groups want to sue about anything.”
The display was removed after they received a threat from the Freedom From Religion Foundation – a bunch of atheist agitators from Wisconsin.
They allege that Nativity scenes on public property are unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive.
“The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from showing favoritism towards religion,” wrote Samantha Lawrence for the Freedom from Religion Foundation. “Nativity scenes on public property are unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive. It is irrefutable that the nativity is a religious Christian symbol.”
They were alerted to Mary and Joseph by Justin Scott, the founder of Eastern Iowa Atheists.
To be clear there is nothing unconstitutional about the nativity scene – a display that literally celebrates the Reason for the Season. Lynch v. Donnelly – a Supreme Court case that ruled a Rhode Island Nativity did not violate the law.
Chief Justice Warren Burger noted that Congress recognized Christmas literally as Christ’s Mass. So celebrate accordingly.
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