A mural of a Nativity scene with the words "Christmas Begins With Christ" was removed from the window of the post office in Rupert, Idaho, before the holiday (video below).
“I think it is an extreme over-stepping of political correctness,” resident Teri Stably told the Twin Falls Times-News. “We live in a small town that is predominately Christian. And we just have to sit back and take it. It really irritates me.”
Because the painting advocated a specific religion on government property, the Freedom From Religion Foundation told the post office that the artwork violated the principal of separation of church and state.
The post office’s windows were later painted over to say: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men." The Nativity scene was re-painted on the windows of a vacant Swensen's supermarket opposite the post office, reports the Twin Falls Times-News.
Rupert resident Gary Schorzman believed the Nativity scene should have been allowed because stamps with the Nativity are sold by the post office, which closes on Christmas, a religious holiday.
“It seems a little hypocritical to me,” Schorzman stated. “If that’s the way they want it, why don’t they keep the post office open on Christmas and not allow religious material to go through there?”
The local postmaster, identified only as Egbert, told the newspaper: “It was an oversight on my part. The manual clearly states you can’t have any religious depictions on the building. I just didn’t realize it until it was brought to my attention.”
FFRF received a complaint from a local resident in November, and sent its letter to the post office on Dec. 4.
“The fact that it is on a government building, any government building, this would have been unconstitutional on any government building,” Madeline Ziegler, an FFRF attorney, told KMVT. "And because there was a post office, there are extra regulations, post office specific regulations that prohibit religious displays as well."
Even though federal law prohibits the religious displays on post offices, local residents seem to believe FFRF is dictating its will on the town.
"I just thought that it was sad that just a few people can determine what the rest of us feel," Karma Etherington told the news station.
"I think that's horrible," Kathy Painter added. "Christmas is the reason for the season. Christ is the reason for the season."
"The real meaning of Christmas is the birth of Christ," Diane Paulson stated. "And it's a shame that the minority takes over for the majority and they seem to rule."
The word "Christmas" never actually appears in the Bible, nor is there an annual holiday celebrated on Jesus' birthday in the Bible.