Nativity scene disputes not 
an issue in Waukesha County
Leaders say arguments like those seen in Green Bay unlikely here

By JOE PETRIE - GM Today Staff

December 21, 2007


Jim Trapman of Waukesha walks Thursday along Main Street in downtown. Trapman, who celebrates Christmas with his family each year, said the holiday decorations put up by the city of Waukesha do not offend him. Some communities, including Green Bay, have come under fire lately for their Christmas decorations, but Trapman said if the decorations bother people, they should just keep on walking and not think about it. "They have to deal with it. In America, this is the way we do it," Trapman said.

WAUKESHA - When city officials in Green Bay decided to construct a Nativity scene on city property last week, it opened the door to a slew of controversies and strange requests from residents.

Besides the Nativity scene, a Wicca pentacle - a gold, five-point star surrounded by a wreath - was constructed at the city hall last week, and on Saturday, another Green Bay-area resident requested a Festivus pole be installed on the grounds.

Critics said the maneuver is a blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. Leaders in Waukesha County said this is why an argument over religious displays is best left out of this area.

"You have to be respectful of all religions and if you start putting one display up, you have to put up displays for everybody," Muskego Mayor John Johnson said. "If you put up a Nativity scene and then a group asks you to put up a Hanukkah display or a display for the Muslim holiday, do you tell them no? You canít."

Johnson said he has never heard of anyone asking for a Nativity display at Muskego City Hall and he doesnít anticipate the issue coming up anytime soon.




Thomas Farley, corporation counsel for Waukesha County, said there are no state or local laws limiting religious displays on government property. The only guidelines are outlined in U.S. Supreme Court cases involving the separation of church and state.

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This story appeared in The Freeman on December 21, 2007.