City hall is no home for baby Jesus, say city officials.
A Nativity scene has found a new home at a Menominee, Michigan church and homeless shelter, after being removed… https://t.co/8tRwrkRNRx
— WLUK-TV FOX 11 (@fox11news) December 2, 2016
Starting the “War on Christmas” early this year, a Michigan town has declared that baby Jesus will not be allowed on city property.
Officials in Menominee, Michigan recently tore down a Nativity scene at city hall shortly after putting it up when a city attorney said that it violated city policy. Menominee had hosted this Nativity scene for decades as part of a long-standing tradition.
“You had Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. That is not allowed to be on city property,” said Tony Graff, Menominee city manager, to KFVS News. “It was determined by the city attorney that we were looking at a violation of our own policy and so the decision was made to remove it.”
Graff cites the pressure from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, who has sent Menominee officials multiple letters regarding the city hall Nativity scene, as a contributing factor.
“[The Freedom from Religion Foundation] have sent letters to the city for many years in a row questioning the policy,” Graff said. “This year we decided to enforce the policy.”
KFVS News managed to speak to Freedom from Religion Foundation as well. An attorney with the Madison, Wisconsin-based group, Ryan Jayne, said that a Menominee resident first reached out to the foundation with a complaint in 2007, which is when they sent Menominee the first letter.
Jayne explains the reasoning behind why city hall needed to tear down baby Jesus’ home below:
“Even if you have a city with 99 percent of the populous being Christian and supporting a Christian Nativity, that 1 percent is relying on constitutional protection to say that the government must remain neutral on this question and that’s exactly what the establishment clause of the First Amendment is.”
For his part, Graff explained that “the Nativity scene is something of Christmas and we all personally understand that, but when it’s the government we have to take a little separation.”
He went on to add that city officials like himself are “willing to work with faith-based organizations in the community to put it up where it’s not public property, because of the issue of constitutionality, it’s been discussed all around the country in regards to separation of church and state.”
For now, the Nativity scene has found a new home at a local church and homeless shelter.