A long standing nativity painting in the city of Rupert has been removed after pressure from a legal foundation fighting for the separation of church and state.
The city of Rupert has long been known as Christmas City USA.
Now a local resident and the powerful legal foundation has started to chip away at that beloved image.
In mid–November a concerned citizen filed a complaint to the Freedom From Religion Foundation about a mural painted on the window of the post office.
That mural depicted the nativity scene of the birth of Jesus Christ and the words Christmas begins with Christ.
“The fact that it’s on a government building, this would have been unconstitutional on any government building and because it was a post office, there are extra regulations, post office specific regulations that prohibit religious displays,” said Madeline Ziegler from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The Freedom from Religion Foundations says the display was a violation of the first amendment, which prohibits government organizations from endorsing religion.
In addition, post office regulations are very clear that religious symbols, including nativity scenes specifically, cannot be posted on postal property.
But some residents in Rupert think this whole thing is absurd.
“I just thought that it was sad that just a few people can determine what the rest of us feel,” said Karma Etherington.
“I think that’s just horrible. Christmas is the reason for the season – Christ is the reason for the season,” said Kathy Painter.
“The real meaning of Christmas is the birth of Christ. It’s a shame that the minority takes over for the majority and they seem to rule,” said Diane Paulson.
No matter how the majority feels, U.S. law clearly state what can be displayed and what cannot be displayed on a government building.
Meaning the mural had to go.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation officially sent a letter to the post office on December 4th.
On December 14th, the mural was removed and replace with a more politically correct version saying “peace on earth – good will toward men”
But that didn’t stop residents from recreating the original mural right across the street, at the vacant Swensen’s Market, facing the post office.