No Claremont holiday display policy yet

Claremont plans to continue its annual display of the Nativity scene and a Menorah at Broad Street Park this year, despite not yet having a written policy concerning the displays.

CLAREMONT — The city may not have a policy written in time for this year’s holiday season that would address the controversy that erupted last year over the public Nativity scene and Menorah display at Broad Street Park.

Mayor Charlene Lovett said last week that the city is running out of time for this year to craft a policy that will pass legal muster.

“We’re working with legal counsel to draft a policy but it’s going to be very complex and timely, and take time,” Lovett said.

Instead, the city will have a memorandum written by attorneys to cover the city-owned displays, she said.

A policy proposal has been in the works for several months after last year’s complaint about the holiday displays.

City resident Sam Killay, an atheist, complained about the Nativity scene and Menorah displayed at the park last year. Killay said last month he believes the city has so far not addressed his concerns about the separation of church and state. Any policy allowing for religious displays on city land opens the door for other displays, he 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,” Killay said last month. “As several people noted in the last committee meeting, that’s opening Pandora’s Box.”

Last year, Killay stated that he was considering putting up an anti-Christian display if the city continued to put up the Nativity scene 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 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.

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