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Randal Christy on Monday with the nativity scene.

Eureka Springs backs down, will not force removal of nativity from city park

The mayor of Eureka Springs, Ark., says he will now allow a nativity scene to remain on city property.

The city earlier moved to force the removal of the 72-year-old display, which attracted national attention, and a story on Metrovoicenews.com went viral on Monday.

Christians in the bucolic town nestled in the Ozark Mountains rallied to the defense of the display which has become a tradition in the region. They, along with Randal Christy, who is executive director of the Passion Play, stated they would defy the city order in a defense of free speech rights. Mayor Butch Berry had personally told Christy to remove the display after one person threatened the city with a lawsuit.

READ: Eureka Springs bans nativity, will force removal

News of the City’s actions spread through Christian media and online, generating thousands of online posts in support of free speech.

Monday afternoon, Christy alerted followers on Facebook that Berry “just notified me in writing that he has changed his mind and WILL NOT require us to remove our Nativity Scene out of the city’s Basin Park.”

Christy also said the mayor will “stand together” to fight any potential lawsuit.

“We stand together to keep Christ and the Nativity in Christmas in Eureka Springs!!! I’m proud of Mayor Berry for making the right decision,” Christy posted.

eureka nativity

Randall Christy

Christy had earlier asked, “Why is the nativity such a threat to the mayor of Eureka Springs?”

The nativity scene had been a holiday tradition in Basin Park since 1950. Volunteers from the Passion Play have erected the nativity on behalf of Beta Sigma Phi for a number of years. The display is an iconic part of Christmas in the community.

READ: Christians stand up to Eureka Springs, Ark. mayor, refuse to remove nativity

The U.S. Supreme Court has previously found that a nativity scene does not violate the separation clause when other Christmas symbols are also present, as they are in the Eureka Springs park.

As reported Monday on metrovoicenews.com, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the display of a nativity scene, also known as a creche, on public property. In the 1984 Lynch vs Donnely case, a 5-4 majority upheld Pawtucket, Rhode Island’s right to display an outdoor nativity set. The court deemed the specific holiday display acceptable because it did not promote a specific religion because other Christmas scenes were also on display in the park. According to the ruling, the display recognized the holiday as well as the religious connotation.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

One comment

  1. If a threat of a lawsuit is given by an individual over a nativity scene displayed at a city park, and names of those defending the display are made public then by all means let the nation know who threw the bloody fit to have it banned. This person may have suffered some sort of trauma making their thinking a bit off and it’s time for some old fashioned healing to take place to help them overcome their prejudices.

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