Teaneck Orthodox Mayor Sanctions Municipal Christmas Crèche

This is the Teaneck news from the Jerusalem Post:
This year, Teaneck, NJ, added a crèche to its display of a tree and menora on the town green. But the town council had been divided. A minority wanted to deny the crèche as well as reject the menora, which was donated by Lubavitch in 1989.

The Orthodox mayor, however, supported the nativity scene. "This is a diverse town," said Mayor Elie Y. Katz. "If we can get a diverse, all-inclusive display and try to represent as many religions as we can in the community, I think that is a positive thing."

The result is a collection of holiday decorations adjacent to the municipal building: a crèche, a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, snowmen and a menora.

A crèche or a menora standing alone would violate the law, but adding Santa, Frosty the Snowman, a sleigh, candy canes and reindeer make the display acceptable under the law.

This is what the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, calls the "Three Reindeer Rule" in which public displays of religious symbols are permitted when the hodgepodge of decorations makes it clear that the government is not endorsing a religion.

If the holiday display is somewhat silly in appearance - the seasonal equivalent of mixing apples and oranges - it is also serious in effect because it may trivialize religious symbols to make them acceptable for public display.
By the way, according to the Teaneck Progress blog the township spent our hard earned tax dollars to purchase a nativity scene.

Oy. Merry or happy whatever~!

Since 1989, if not before that, Teaneck has grappled with the issue of religion in the public square. Here are two opinions from the Times on the issue:
  1. The Menorah On the Town Green

    ...10 article ''Effort to Display Menorah on Town Green Finally Succeeds,'' it is unfortunate...on the municipal green. Regarding the Dec. 10 article ''Effort to Display Menorah on Town Green Finally Succeeds,'' it is unfortunate...

    January 7, 1990 - New York and Region - 327 words
  2. Holiday Displays On Public Property

    ...been asked by the Jewish Community Council to respond to the recent article ''Effort to Display Menorah on Town Green Finally Succeeds,'' because it failed to communicate this...

    February 11, 1990 - New York and Region - 406 words

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