Christmas Creche Scene and the Establishment Clause

November 30, 2002

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On November 30, 2002 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that "almost three months ago, police officials directed the Christian Leaders Fellowship to erect parking signs on Grant Street, adjacent to the popular Christmas creche scene by USX Tower Downtown. Then this week, after the signs went up, the city's top lawyer said the signs may be illegal and should come down. Looking for a compromise, other city officials said parking should still be allowed by the creche, but not marked by the church-funded signs. So yesterday the Public Works Department replaced them with new, city-funded signs that do not mention the creche by name... A creche is a display of a stable scene, usually erected at Christmas, representing a scene at the birth of Jesus, the founder of Christianity... This is just the latest creche-related tempest for the city. Until 1989, the Nativity scene had been at the county courthouse, but opponents, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, won a court order saying the display amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of a religion. From 1996 to 1998, a small version of the stable scene by the Christian Leaders Fellowship was placed on the Gateway Center lawn, but it also drew protests since it was on city-owned property. It moved to the USX Tower the next year."