A Minnesota town’s holiday decorations will be missing one traditional item this year.
The Wadena City Council voted unanimously at a Nov. 10 meeting to remove a nativity scene from a city park, KARE News reports.
The vote came in response to a January letter form the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation which threatened to sue the city for displaying the nativity on public property, according to WCCO News
“It is unlawful for the City to maintain, erect or host a holiday display that prominently features a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for and endorsing one religion,” Patrick Elliot, an attorney for the FFRF, wrote in the letter. “The Supreme Court has ruled it is impermissible to place a nativity scene as the focus of a display on public property.”
Wadena Mayor George Deiss told KARE the nativity had been a part of the city’s decorations for as long as anyone could remember. He said didn’t think the nativity necessarily promoted religion.
“When something is put up that many years it becomes a tradition to the city,” he said.
“There are a number of traditions that should be stopped and those are ones that violate the Constitution,” he told KARE. “So no matter how long they've been perpetuating this illegal display, now is the time to stop it. Now that they are aware of it.”
Many residents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting in favor of keeping the display, according to KARE, but Deiss and council members said fear of a lawsuit convinced them it was time to part ways with the nativity.
They voted to donate the display to a local ministerial association that may showcase it on private property.