The haters of Christmas never sleep, and they will never stop their hate campaign so long as a Christmas exists for them to war on. This week, the battleground has shifted to Newaygo, Michigan, where a “civil rights” group has now demanded an elementary school remove its traditional three wise men display.
According to LifeSiteNews, the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists (MACRA) has drawn first blood against Newaygo Elementary School in the fight to remove the school’s Three Wise Men display. Perched on the roof, the flat wooden figures riding atop their camels toward the Bethlehem star have been a school tradition since the 1940s. Apparently, only one resident complained about it, prompting MACRA to step in.
MACRA leader Mitch Kale told CNN the display is essentially a Christian symbol on public property and should be removed. “We’ve asked the school to remove what is, in essence, a nativity scene, from the top of the school, and from school property,” he said. “if this were on private property it wouldn’t be an issue.”
Kale said that nobody will miss the Three Wise Men display once it’s gone, citing another Michigan town that removed its Nativity display following a city council vote. MACRA has worked to remove religious icons from public lands for years.
“We understand that the situation sometimes will make people upset,” Kale told CNN. “But just like in Grand Haven, where their nativity scene has been up for 70 years, that’s now been gone for five years, the city council voted to remove it. And no one complains about it now.”
Not all residents agree with MACRA or Kale; they have vowed to fight back to preserve their tradition. Amy Postma told Eastern Michigan’s CBS affiliate “9&10 News” that the figures are “just a symbol of our community.”
“It’s always been there and we love it,” she said, adding that objections to the display would be like disallowing kids from Santa Claus at a bank. “You can’t just take away something that we’ve always done. It’s not harming anyone, it’s not hurting anyone, so live and let live.”
The son of one of the former Newaygo students who built the traditional display has suggested a compromise. “IMO [in my opinion], they should be allowed to remain,” wrote Lowell Godfrey on a MACRA activists’ Facebook page, “so long as the schools add a wider variety of religious symbols.”
“My dad helped build those in shop class in the old school back in the 1940’s,” he added. “So….IMO, the school should have a class on world religions and as a project for the class have students create more artwork (like those 3 Wise Men), representative of other religious groups, and add them to the display.”
Other than Hanukkah, no other legit holiday exists this time of year, and since Christmas is the national holiday, putting up a star and crescent symbol to represent Islam would be nonsensical. From the looks of the display, the star of Bethlehem is the same as the Star of David, so even Judaism gets a small hat-tip.
Fortunately, according to the Friendly Atheist blog on Patheos, the school district’s superintendent said the display will stay. On a now-deleted Facebook post, Dr. Peggy Mathis wrote: “Newaygo Public Schools has a legitimate secular purpose for the display. We are both upholding the community’s tradition of celebrating a public holiday and attempting to point towards the importance of wisdom, knowledge, and open-mindedness.”
“We are in no way seeking a primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion,” Mathis added. “To my knowledge no one has been led to faith, or driven from faith, by this display that has spanned more than half a century.”
“To my knowledge there is no case law that prohibits the depiction of three non-Christian middle eastern men on camels that are seeking wisdom. Our display has a legitimate secular purpose,” she repeated. “It is my hope that we all will continue to stress the importance of seeking wisdom, knowledge, and open-mindedness during this entire holiday season.”