Rehoboth Beach Nativity Scene Controversy
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- The nativity scene that Saint Edmond's Church placed at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach could make a return, but at a different location.
The familiar scene caused controversy last year when it was placed along the avenue. The city asked the church to remove it because the city does not allow religious displays on public property.
An alternative was offered but Saint Edmond's says it isn't sufficient.
The church is known for placing its Christmas display in Rehoboth Beach dating all the way back to the 1930s. The city asked to remove it citing that the creche could violate the separation of church and state. so the church moved the display across the avenue to Grotto's Pizza still wanting to stay on the avenue. The issue arose once again this year.
"The city manager actually met this summer starting in August with a number of different religious organizations to figure out what was the best thing as far as going forward," said Rehoboth Beach Mayor, Paul Kuhns.
The city says it's willing to help the church find a prominent location not at the band stand so it doesn't violate city policy.
"to avoid the situation that happened last year the chamber of commerce offered an alternative. Last year they tried to help and again this year they've reached out to the church and the city making the space in front of their building available for the creche.
The President and CEO of the chamber of commerce said, "Well I think the choice of the nativity scene is up to the church and the city but we certainly have the property here and it would qualify for their use and you know we have, extended the offer."
Father Cocco with Saint Edmond's says the chamber of commerce is too far up the avenue, "at the center or the circle where the city gathers, that's where the start of the Christmas celebration, the season begins."
The city's policy is no religious displays on public property. Father Cocco says if all else fails, they would like to try to put it back at Grotto's nearby.
"We're talking about a creche with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus and there seems to be a problem with that and I just can't understand what it is," he said.
But the city says they'll work with the church if they were to choose the chamber's location by lighting it, and blocking off parking spaces.