Rehoboth Beach Orders Removal of Nativity Scene Near Bandstand - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rehoboth Beach Orders Removal of Nativity Scene Near Bandstand

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Photo courtesy: Patty Derrick Photo courtesy: Patty Derrick

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- Members of a church that put up an outdoor nativity scene by the Rehoboth Beach Christmas tree near the bandstand are speaking out after they say the city ordered its removal.

The Star of the Sea Council of the Knights of Columbus, which is affiliated with St. Edmond Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach, stated that the council was ordered to remove the nativity scene by the city.

According to them, it had been given permission to set up the display by the city's Christmas tree but has since been ordered to take it down. 

However, Rehoboth Beach Communications Director Krys Johnson said the city did not give the church permission to put the nativity scene next to the city Christmas tree and requested the council to take it down.
 
The city says the idea was discussed but never finalized--though they say one of their employees did give the organization a key to retrieve the figurines. 
 
"Just because it's up is not necessarily an implication that the city is saying anything about the Catholic Faith, or that it's better than anybody. It's Christmas, it's a celebration of Christ's birth," Father William Cocco with the church said. 
 
But the city disagrees. They received a letter from the Anti-Defamation League saying the nativity scene was not inclusive to all religions. 
 
"A Christmas tree is not a religious symbol, however a creche is and what they mention in the letter that they sent to us is if you're on the edge there, you should probably not allow it," Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns said.
 
But some people, like John Tekmen who owns a restaurant downtown says he wasn't affected--Tekmen is of Islamic belief.
 
"I think everything boils down to the intent and what people are trying to do. As a Muslim, I don't think there's an issue or anything wrong with that."
 
Others have a hard time grappling with the city's decision to take down the nativity scene, but believe inclusion is important. 
 
People like Bob Joynson says inclusion is essential but shouldn't keep other people from expressing their beliefs. 
 
"It'd be nice if we had the menorah and the Kwanzaa candles, but I understand that different organizations would have to provide those things," Joynson said. 
Joynson says he and his wife look forward to the nativity scene around the city every year and were very sad to see it go. 
 
The church is requesting a special meeting with the city to continue to express their concerns. 
 
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