Holiday

Complaint drives nativity from Butner gazebo

Posted December 26, 2016
Updated December 27, 2016

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— 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."

18 Comments

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  • Henry Evans Dec 27, 12:40 p.m.
    user avatar

    People, we just need to be creative. Find out who complained. Get access to the private property near their house. Erect multitudes of nativity scenes next Christmas. WINNING!

  • Rick Nolte Dec 27, 10:46 a.m.
    user avatar

    There is no war on Christianity or Christmas. You are being asked to abide by the Constitution. Simply put whatever display you like on your own property and everyone will be fine.

  • Ken Ackerman Dec 27, 6:40 a.m.
    user avatar

    I wouldn't have complained about the nativity scene but I am not a Christian. Arguments like this one bother me because people seem to automatically jump to the worst view. For example, "It's an attack on Christianity". I remember being in class in public school here in NC and being forced to stand in the hallway because I was not a Christian. I wish someone had been there to protect me from being publicly humiliated by Christians.

  • Ken Ackerman Dec 27, 6:34 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    That is precisely why the government cannot "endorse" a specific religion. The government has to protect the person that sent the email from you. Most likely when you received the document after your information request the sender's name would be redacted.

  • Linda Tally Dec 27, 4:36 a.m.
    user avatar

    The fact is that the organization sending the email has the issue correct - it IS a violation of religious/secular separation. The angels left on the property violate it also. BUT... there is NOTHING to prevent everyone in Butner (or the entire country for that matter) from erecting nativity scenes, angels, stars of Bethlehem (also Moravian stars), and anything connected to the Christian tradition on every spare piece of private property. I think a town full of nativity scenes would be neat!

    This isn't war on Christmas. It's simply adhering to the letter of the law.

  • Buster Brown Dec 27, 1:55 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Sage advice--might do you well to follow it...

  • Scott James Dec 26, 9:42 p.m.
    user avatar

    That email, being sent to a public official regarding public business, is public record. Someone in the town should file a records request just to out the person who sent it. If they feel so strongly about it they shouldn't be afraid to stand by their beliefs publicly.

  • Daryl Mac Dec 26, 9:19 p.m.
    user avatar

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.... If only our government officals would realize they are supposed to protect the rights of those who wish to practice thier belief, not protect the ones who wish to suppress that right. I dont care what religious article adorns a public place, as long as no one elses is denied. Separation of church and stste is meant so the arch bishop, mulla, rabbi, monk or whomver does not have a hand in the influence of political office. It had nothing to do with a nativity on a lawn or there wouldnt have been a god in our Bill Of Rights .....establishment clause: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.... i think they prohibited. .

  • Karen Hahn Dec 26, 9:06 p.m.
    user avatar

    For the uneducated among you try Lynch v. Donnelly, a U.S. Supreme Court case on this very point. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/465/668/case.html
    Attacking me won't change the truth. Please try to read, study and understand the constitution of your country. Or justify why you refuse.

  • Daryl Mac Dec 26, 9:05 p.m.
    user avatar

    If only our government officals would realize they are supposed to protect the rights of those who wish to practice thier belief, not protect the ones who wish to suppress that right. I dont care what religious article adorns a public place, as long as no one elses is denied. Separation of church and stste is meant so the arch bishop, mulla, rabbi, monk or whomver does not have a hand in the influence of political office. It had nothing to do with a nativity on a lawn or there wouldnt have been a god in our Bill Of Rights !

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