Complaint drives nativity from Butner gazebo
Posted December 26, 2016
Updated December 27, 2016
Butner, N.C. — Butner Mayor Vicky Cates said she asked the builder of the town's nativity scene to remove it from public property last week after getting a complaint.
For years, residents have been able to bring their own decorations to Gazebo Park. About a decade ago, Bill Crosby built and contributed the manger.
But Cates said she got an email – she wouldn't say who it was from – warning that the nativity on public property violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims 500 members statewide, wrote to Cates after being "contacted by a concerned resident."
On the advice of the town attorney James Wrenn Jr., Cates asked that the nativity be moved.
The time especially bothered barber Elbert Oakley.
"The mayor called and said it had to be moved, and had to be moved now," he said. "It was wrong to do it a day before Christmas Eve."
So Oakley offered up a lot that he owns, on D Street near the Deliverance Temple Church.
He, Crosby and Crosby's brother worked quickly to move and reset the nativity.
"It seems a shame that the government has to tell us what we can and can't do in situations like this," Crosby said. "I think it should be left to the people and the towns."
Oakley promised the people of Butner would have no shortage of reminders of the reason for the season.
"They will not win," he said. "Next year, you’ll see three or four of them. You won’t see one, but it may have to be on private property. They will not win."