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The so-called war on Christmas has been reignited with an ironic decision by the city of Chicago to ban advertisements for “The Nativity Story” movie from a local Christmas festival, fearing they might offend non-Christians.

“This is one of the most blatant forms of religious discrimination imaginable,” said Jay Sekulow, a Christian who is chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. “To suggest that a movie about the birth of Jesus Christ should not be included in a Christmas festival is absurd. This transcends political correctness and centers squarely on religious bigotry.”

New Line Cinema had planned to play a loop of its film on TV monitors at the event, but the decision by government leaders has many shaking their heads.

Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and known for his MovieGuide recommendations, told WND the city’s ban on the ads is “abhorrent” and he labeled Chicago officials as “corrupt.”

“I’m absolutely shocked that at a Christmas festival, they would not allow commercials they could see tonight on TV,” he said. “It is just more political correctness where everything is OK – except Christianity.”

Chicago officials maintain the city doesn’t wish to appear to endorse one religion over another.

Cindy Gatziolis, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, acknowledged to the Associated Press there is an actual nativity scene set up in Daley Plaza, but noted there will be representations of other faiths, including a Jewish menorah, all put up by private groups.

“Our guidance was that this very prominently placed advertisement would not only be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its food and unique gifts, but also it would be contrary to acceptable advertising standards suggested to the many festivals holding events on Daley Plaza,” Jim Law, executive director of the office, said in a statement.

The ACLJ said it will send a letter to city officials and festival organizers urging them to end their discriminatory practices and to permit the movie to serve as a sponsor for the festival.

“The city of Chicago and festival organizers are exhibiting an intolerance that is offensive to Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Sekulow said. “The city and festival organizers must respect the First Amendment and put an end to the discriminatory practices. We call on the city of Chicago and festival organizers to reverse the decision and permit ‘The Nativity Story’ to serve as a sponsor of the Christmas festival.”



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