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Two rulings expected on whether public displays of Nativity are permissible

.- Two judges are expected to rule next week in separate cases on whether the Christian Nativity scene can be displayed in public.

The Thomas More Law Center filed the two cases, one in New York City and the other in Bay Harbor Islands, Fl., over policies that deny the public display of the Christian Nativity while permitting the display of symbols of other religions.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the center, said these two cases “demonstrate the kind of hostility and double standard being used by officials to deny Christians the right to publicly celebrate one of their holiest seasons.” 

In New York Dec. 13, the center will present oral argument in its case against the New York City Department of Education.

The center had filed a federal lawsuit, challenging a New York City policy that encourages and permits the display of the Jewish Menorah during Hanukkah and the Islamic star and crescent during Ramadan, but prohibits the display of the Christian Nativity during Christmas.

An appeal was filed after Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles Sifton ruled that the city’s policy was permissible because it was an accommodation of “multiculturalism” and “an attempt to diversify the season and provide non-Christian holidays with parity.”

In Florida, U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga is expected to rule on a request for a temporary restraining order that would to allow a Christian resident to display the Nativity alongside existing Jewish Menorahs in Bay Harbor Islands.

The emergency request was filed as a part of a federal lawsuit against the Town of Bay Harbor Islands for displaying exclusively Jewish religious symbols while prohibiting a similar display of the Christian Nativity.

The town had decorated the lampposts on its main street with Jewish Menorahs and stars of David and allowed a Jewish synagogue to display its Menorah at the town entrance. However, the town denied a Christian resident permission, for the second consecutive year, to display her Christian Nativity scenes.

Town attorneys defended their policy, saying the Menorah is a secular symbol and not a religious one like the Nativity.


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April 21, 2014

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