The Perfect Place for a Nativity Scene

The Perfect Place for a Nativity Scene November 14, 2012

After the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, the leaders of that city are doing the right thing — moving the display to private property, where it belongs. On the grounds of a former church, in fact.

There won’t be a Nativity display in front of the Ellwood City Municipal Building this year. But if Joe Bellissimo gets his way, the popular depiction of Jesus Christ’s birth will be just about everywhere else in town.

The attorney and restaurant owner plans to cast the first creche in front of the former St. Agatha’s church, along Fifth Street in Ellwood City. The church, which closed more than four years ago, is now owned by Bellissimo and Gene Dimeo.

The two are planning to unveil a community Nativity display at 2 p.m., Dec. 2 at the site.

“The backdrop is going to be a perfect fit,” Bellissimo said.

They’re also encouraging others to put up nativity scenes at their homes and businesses. And I think that’s great. That’s exactly where they belong.

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  • And they think religious displays on private property are a giant solitary upraised middle finger to us. At least it makes them happy at this time of year to think they’re winning. Or losing. I can’t tell which makes them feel more special in their little faux-persecuted hearts.

  • Pretty much what Zinc Avenger said:

    “Ha! Take that, you liberal progressives! You can’t stop us from exerting our right to free religion on our private property! Hahaha!”

    I almost want to pretend like it’s really badly affecting us so more people follow this kind of behavior. “Oh no, don’t do that. Please. Don’t take your illegal displays of religious preference from the public square and bring it to your private homes and businesses where they belong.”

  • ReiKKKwing KKKristianist FucKKKbagz of the World UNITE!

    “I can’t tell which makes them feel more special in their little persecuted faux-hearts.*”

    Dear Zinc Avenger:

    It is not like you to get the modifier on the wrong word!

    * ceci a été édité par moi pour l’exactitude et le snark

  • eric

    Evidently they are missing the irony of putting a creche up by a closed church. I guess the good christians of Ellwood city have money a-plenty for life-size plastic wise men but didn’t want to go to church or give money into the collection plate.

  • Echoing 1 & 2, it appears that the proponents of the nativity scenes on private property think that executing their plan would be an act of victorious defiance. Maybe that’s because they would have a problem with certain non-Judeo-Christian religious displays erected on private property. I’d suggest someone do exactly that were it not for the near certainty that they’d face Christian vandalism or worse.

  • machintelligence

    What part of “not on public property” do they not understand?

  • @Machineintelligence:

    They don’t understand the word “on.” I used to be an Evangelical. I know, it’s a hard concept. Prepositions still give me trouble when I have to use them… something… sentences.

    You know the preposition, it’s not above or below, or around… or even on, I got that one.

  • @Katherine #2 – PLEASE don’t throw that Nativity scene into the briar patch!

    Sometimes I wish I didn’t live in an apartment. If I had a yard, I would gladly put up a festively decorated sign that said, “Keep the Sol in Solstice” or “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” or some other reasonably atheist sentiment. Or… what might be the atheist equivalent of a Nativity scene?

  • @Gregory in Seattle:

    Spaghetti and meatballs.

  • @ Gregory in Seattle:


    I mean, nothing says atheism, like, well, “nothing”. Maybe you want to put up a nice little living tree in a container, decorated with strings of berries, dried fruit, popcorn and such (for the boidies) and a little sign:

    “This display brought to you by one human being, a massively unconcerned universe and a total lack of GOD.”.

    Then again, they might burn down your tree–along with your house, while you lay asleep inside. There is not substitute for KKKristian LOVE!

  • @democommie:

    That sounds like a lovely idea, except for the string part of it. Is there a biodegradable / edible string-type material? I’d hate for little birdies to start to nom some popcorn or whatnot and then choke on string.

  • gshelley

    Without reading the piece, I can be pretty confident that there are going to be multiple responses along the lines of “Ha, take that atheists, you tried to oppress us and we get our nativity up anyway”

  • dingojack

    I’ve got a idea for the perfect place for a nativity scene, and it has the advantage of making my local Catholic Archbishop walk funny for the rest of his miserable life too.


  • Sastra

    Yes. The theocrats seems to have a serious problem understanding the distinction between “on public property” and “out in public.” They think atheists who are offended when they see a nativity scene located right next to a government building like a city hall or post office are like religious people reacting to blasphemy — or vampires reacting to garlic. It’s not the Constitutional violation and the implication that citizenship is connected to believing in Jesus. No, the image of the manger and holy family is burning holes into our hearts. The pain, the pain!


  • what might be the atheist equivalent of a Nativity scene?

    Something mocking a traditional nativity scene? A pile of cash where the baby Jesus should be? Obama, Biden and Pelosi as the three wise men? Or the Three Stooges?

  • abb3w

    It looks mostly great. But, near the bottom of the article…

    Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court said the display on Bellissimo’s property will kick off an “Ellwood City is a Nativity Town” campaign, with the distribution of signs prior to the display’s unveiling.

    If that’s an official campaign by the City government, that looks to be a slightly different and new Establishment Clause problem. It would seem that the most the city could legally do is officially recognize that a lot of people are doing this, not actually endorse the action. Joe Bellissimo can run such a campaign, since he’s a private citizen; but Mayor Anthony Court needs to keep a hairsbreadth of official distance between the campaign and his office to be sure of lawsuits slipping past.

    Contrariwise, finding someone with standing for a lawsuit over the campaign might be trickier than for an improperly placed nativity.

  • rikitiki

    “…what might be the atheist equivalent of a Nativity scene?”

    I’d do up an alien nativity: flying saucer overhead beaming light onto a scene where ET is in the manger, Mary would be the genetic critter from the movie “Splice”, Joseph would be your standard “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” alien, the shepards would be the ones from the latest Indiana Jones movie…and looking in from behind the stable doors would be the aliens from “Alien” and “Predator”.

    It’d be fun to set it up with a recording camera to catch KKKristian faces as their heads explode when they see it, no?

  • Sastra @14

    The theocrats seems to have a serious problem understanding the distinction between “on public property” and “out in public.”

    I think that’s the most succinct way of phrasing that issue that I’ve seen. Thank you.

  • The problem is that they watch too much Fox News and they actually believe that liar O’Riely when he says we want to stop them from having Christmas. Really we’d just like for them to stop breaking the law.

    Their response makes about as much sense as a guy on a private racetrack doing 100 MPH and flippin a cop the bird every time he speeds by him. It’s not illegal to speed on a racetrack so no one cares.

  • Brad

    No… Please… Stop…. Not on your own private property!… Don’t… wonka.gif

  • gratch

    Ahhh two great things to see in a news article. A properly moved nativity scene and a closed church.

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  • abb3w

    I’d think one atheist analog for the nativity would look something like this.