Two residents of Palm Beach, Fla., filed suit against the city yesterday because officials there allow the display of Jewish menorahs on public property but do not allow Christian nativity scenes.
The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm, brought the suit on behalf of Maureen Donnell and Fern deNarvaez.
According to the law center, the suit demands the city immediately allow a nativity scene to be placed on city property, just as two menorah displays are currently permitted.
The suit claims for two years the city has refused to review requests to have a nativity scene placed alongside menorahs, a practice Thomas More claims demonstrates hostility toward Christians. The suit also alleges Palm Beach has deprived the plaintiffs of their right to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Constitution.
Plaintiff Maureen Donnell made four requests in October and November for the town to allow a privately financed display of a Chistmas nativity scene along with the menorahs. According to the law center, she received no response from city officials.
“It is not our intention to remove the menorahs, but to have a Christmas nativity scene equally displayed alongside the menorahs to acknowledge the celebration of Christmas,” Donnell said in a statement. “The refusal to review my repeated requests is discriminatory and an insult to every Christian in this town.”
Said Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the law center: “Christian residents of Palm Beach are being denied the right to express their religious message in a public forum that is open to other religious faiths, and the Thomas More Law Center has filed this lawsuit to stop this injustice. This is but another example of the national movement to remove Christ from Christmas.”
The Law Center filed a similar lawsuit last year against the New York City public-school system whose written policy permits students to display the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent, but prohibits students from displaying nativity scenes. A ruling on that case is expected soon, the organization said.