A church in Delaware was compelled to remove a manger scene they had placed at a public area despite being reportedly told earlier that it would be acceptable.
St. Edmond Catholic Church of Rehoboth Beach put up a traditional nativity scene earlier this month at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand, a popular public space.
However, soon after the crèche was set up, the church was informed by the city that they had to remove it from the bandstand area.
Krys Johnson, spokesperson for the City of Rehoboth Beach, told The Christian Post on Monday that the nativity was removed because St. Edmund’s lacked permission to put it on public property.
“The church did not have permission from the city to place a nativity scene on city property,” explained Johnson, who added that there “have been no nativity scenes allowed on public property in recent years.”
“The city would like to avoid appearing to endorse or disapprove of any one type of religion. Had any other religious organizations contacted the city, the response would be the same.”
However, the church claims that they did indeed receive permission, directing CP to an article in the Cape Gazette in which St. Edmond parishioner Patty Derrick was interviewed.
“We have a Christmas tree there, why can’t we have a creche up?” stated Derrick, who claimed that Mayor Paul Kuhns and City Manager Sharon Lynn had told her and the Rev. William Cocco of St. Edmond that they did not expect any problems with the nativity display.
Lynn and Kuhns expressed surprise upon learning that the display had been erected, according to an article published by the Gazette last week.
“It would be appropriate to have had permission, which I would have denied, unless all religious communities are represented,” stated Lynn, as reported by the Gazette.
“Perhaps a group can be organized for next year and we can have an appropriate community gathering that is inclusive of all so that the City of Rehoboth Beach local government does not appear to endorse one particular religion.”
Meanwhile, local businesses have expressed their objection to the removal of the nativity scene from the bandstand area.
John Buchheit, co-owner of Crabby Dick's of Rehoboth Beach, posted a message on his restaurant sign that read “Wake Up Rehoboth Beach Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”
“That's the whole meaning of Christmas,” Buchheit explained to delaware1059.com earlier this week. “I'm disappointed in the mayor for pulling the nativity scene.”
“The church has been a very positive influence in the community for years, that's where people go when they need help, and the city needs to have a working relationship with the church. I see no harm in the nativity scene.”