Florida town sued for not allowing display of Christian Nativity

A lawsuit was filed against the Town of Palm Beach Dec. 15, after town officials refused to display the Christian Nativity scene on public property, even though they allow the Jewish menorah to be displayed there.

The Thomas More Law Center, based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Maureen Donnell and Fern deNarvaez, two Palm Beach residents, and has described the situation as “another example of the national movement to remove Christ from Christmas.”

The plaintiffs have sought an immediate temporary restraining order that would allow a Nativity scene to be erected on town property in the same manner as the two menorah displays.

The lawsuit alleges that for the past two years the town has permitted the public display of Jewish menorahs at various prominent public locations, and that town officials have repeatedly refused to review requests to have Christian Nativity scenes displayed alongside them.

“It is not our intention to remove the menorahs, but to have a Christmas Nativity scene equally displayed alongside the menorahs to acknowledge the celebration of Christmas,” said Donnell. “The refusal to review my repeated requests is discriminatory and an insult to every Christian in this town.”

“This policy and practice, the suit alleges, demonstrates hostility toward Christians, and impermissibly conveys the message of disapproval of the Christian faith,” said the Thomas More Law Center in a statement. “The suit also alleges that the town has unconstitutionally deprived the plaintiffs of their right to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Constitution.”

In September, deNarvaez requested that the town permit a privately financed display of a Christian Nativity scene alongside the menorahs. Donnell had also made four requests in October and November, requesting that town officials respond by Dec. 1, but they did not.

 “The Nativity scene represents the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Christians around the world. I simply cannot accept this double standard being applied to the Christmas holiday,” said deNarvaez.

The center filed a similar suit last year against the New York City public school system, whose written policy permits students to display the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent, but prohibits students from displaying Christmas Nativity scenes. A ruling on that case is expected soon.

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