A Nativity scene that has traditionally been set up at the Memorial Marina Park in Menominee, Michigan, was recently removed (video below).
"You had Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. That is not allowed to be on city property," Menominee City Manager Tony Graff told WLUK. "It was determined by the city attorney that we were looking at a violation of our own policy and so the decision was made to remove it."
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has complained several times to the city about endorsing Christianity with the Nativity scene.
"They have sent letters to the city for many years in a row questioning the policy," Graff added. "This year we decided to enforce the policy."
Ryan Jayne, a lawyer with the FFRF, told the news station that the organization has been complaining since 2007:
Even if you have a city with 99% of the populace being Christian and supporting a Christian Nativity, that 1% is relying on Constitutional protection to say that the government must remain neutral on this question and that's exactly what the establishment clause of the First Amendment is.
Graff said the city was willing to work with third parties to display the Nativity scene:
We're willing to work with faith-based organizations in the community to put it up where it's not public property, because of the issue of constitutionality, that's been discussed all around the country in regards to separation of church and state.
The Nativity scene is something of Christmas and we all personally understand that, but when it's the government we have to take a little separation.
Soon after the city announced that the Nativity scene was leaving the park, the Abundant Life Church & Mission said that it would display the Nativity scene on its property, which would not violate the separation of church and state, reports WLUK.
The church plans to do some touch ups to the nativity scene before putting it up.