A dispute between a Arkansas city and a Christian group over a Christmas nativity display has ended with a change of heart on the part of city authorities.
The city of Eureka Springs, Arkansas sought the removal of a nativity scene from Basin Spring Park earlier this month, according to KYTV.
Mayor Butch Berry told the director of the group that set up the display in the public park that the city had been threatened with a lawsuit as a result of its placement.
“That upset me, and I wanted to know why,” Randall Christy stated of the city’s initial decision.
Christy is the executive director of The Great Passion Play, an Arkansas organization that stages a yearly dramatic depiction of Christ’s death and resurrection.
“He said there was a threat of a lawsuit and the city attorney had advised him just to have it removed.”
Christy declined to bow before the demand to end the yearly tradition — all seemingly at the behest of one litigant determined to sink a community fixture that had lasted for decades.
“And I said, no, we’re not going to do that. We don’t believe that one citizen’s opinion can force us to remove the Nativity that has been here for decades.”
The display is a 72-year old tradition in the Arkansas community, according to Christy.
After the city told Christy to take down the nativity scene, something that could’ve been pulled right out of a Christmas movie occurred. Amazingly, people from everywhere, not just Eureka Springs, rose up together to protest having to take down the nativity scene.
Protests on the parts of locals and others determined to defend the Christmas spirit appear to have been enough to set the city straight, according to KYTV.
“The city of Eureka Springs is following its philosophy of being inclusive of all people and all beliefs,” the city and Mayor Berry said of the controversy in a statement provided to KYTV.
“We appreciate the emails and phone calls received from all over the country. And we wish everyone peace and goodwill toward all during this holiday season.”
Christy later thanked Mayor Berry for deciding to allow the Nativity scene in a Facebook post.
Berry had notified Christy that the city would not require his organization to remove the Christian display — and that the city would fight any lawsuit seeking to purge the nativity scene in the courts.
It’s unclear if a lawsuit to purge the nativity scene from the public park will ultimately be filed. Nativity scenes are commonly displayed in American public parks around Christmas, and their presence on public property has been found constitutional before.
The display of nativity scenes are an ancient Christian tradition meant to highlight the miracle of Christ’s virgin birth.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.