Claremont Nativity

The Christmas season hasn’t started yet, but Claremont may be headed for a problem over a new policy to address the annual Nativity and Menorah displays at Broad Street Park.

CLAREMONT — The City Council is expected to review a proposed city policy that would keep the annual religious displays at Broad Street Park for the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons.

The proposed policy comes after city resident Sam Killay, an atheist, complained about the Nativity scene and Menorah displayed on city-owned property. Killay said Tuesday that the policy to keep putting up religious displays opens up the city to possible repercussions.

“Realistically, I don’t think the people of this town will allow the displays to come down,” Killay said. “But then, to avoid the appearance of favoring certain groups of people over others, the city is going to have to allow other people to put things up. As several people noted in the last committee meeting, that’s opening Pandora’s Box.”

Killay said the proposed policy simply gives a “nuts and bolts” breakdown of which city department is responsible for the displays. He said that’s insufficient to address his concerns, which have been about the separation of church and state.

“A nuts and bolts version by itself ... would still leave me with the initial question I began asking a couple years ago: Why is my city putting up a religious display on public property?”

Killay still prefers the city to not put up any religious display on public property, but he hinted he may pursue his own display if the city won’t relent.

“I’ve said many times before: The easiest solution is simply not to have religious displays on public property,” Killay said. “If we have to do it the hard way, OK. But that, again, is a choice.”

Last year, Killay said he was considering putting up an anti-Christian display if the city continued to put up the Nativity and Menorah during the holidays. Killay mentioned an upside-down cross as a possibility. While the upside-down cross has been more recently adopted as an anti-Christian symbol, it has actually been known as the Petrine Cross for centuries. The Petrine Cross honors St. Peter, who was martyred on an upside-down cross, according to Christian tradition.

The council’s policy committee is expected to present the policy to the full council later this month.

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