In a dispute over display of holiday symbols, New York City schools are allowing Jewish menorahs and Islamic crescents but barring Christian nativity scenes, alleging the depiction of the birth of Christ does not represent a historical event.

In pleadings with a federal court in defense of the ban, New York City lawyers asserted the “suggestion that a cr?che is a historically accurate representation of an event with secular significance is wholly disingenuous.”

The Jewish and Islamic symbols are allowed, the district says, because they have a secular dimension, but the Christian symbols are “purely religious.”

Robert J. Muise, who will challenge the school policy at a federal court hearing tomorrow in Brooklyn, told WorldNetDaily be believes most Americans don’t see it that way.

“The birth of Jesus is a historical event which serves as the basis for celebration of Christmas,” Muise stated. “It’s of importance for both Christians and non-Christians.”

Muise’s Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center filed a motion to temporarily restrain the city from enforcing its ban on nativity scenes. The center asserts New York’s policy “promotes the Jewish and Islamic faiths while conveying the impermissible message of disapproval of Christianity in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

The Michigan group says one public-school principal issued a memo encouraging teachers to bring to school “religious symbols” that represent the Islamic and Jewish religions, but made no mention of Christianity.

Jewish menorahs adorned the halls of the school as part of the authorized displays, the More Center said, but students were not allowed to make and similarly display nativity scenes

A parent who wrote a letter of complaint to her son’s teacher received a copy of the school’s “Holiday Displays” policy in response.

Kate Ahlers, communications director for New York City’s law department, says schools can use things that are secular like menorahs, stars and snowflakes, but the cr?che is considered religious.

“There is a separation of church and state that is part of the Constitution,” she claimed. “It’s a clear belief that people try to follow in schools and public office, and schools are saying they adhere to that belief.”

The point of schools, she added, “is not to debate religion; the point of schools is to teach children.”

The federal civil-rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of Andrea Skoros and her two elementary-school children against the city of New York and several school officials.

Skoros and her children are devout Roman Catholics.

“Can Christianity be erased from a public school?” Muse asked in a statement. “Can ‘Christ’ be removed from Christmas? We will soon find out.”

Related stories:

Christmas in America becomes battleground

School bans Christmas, but OK with Halloween

School bans saying ‘Christmas’

Ban on Christmas leads to court fight



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