Creche Controversies

December 9, 1998

Source: No source given.

In Somerset, MA, a 60-year tradition of a creche on the front lawn of the Somerset Town Hall was ruled unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. On December 1st, 1998, the Boston Globe reported on the federal ruling by US District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns in Boston (December 1, 1998, Boston Globe, Metro/Region, Pg. B1). Stearns ruled this particular creche presentation unconstitutional because it offered "no superabundance of secular symbols to dilute the religious message of the creche." On December 12th, 1998, the Globe reported that Somerset unveiled a new holiday display, complete with a menorah, two reindeer nibbling on a Christmas tree, Frosty the Snowman, a lit-up sign that reads "Season's Greetings," an 18-foot Santa Claus, and a creche to try and conform with the ruling (December 12, 1998, Boston Globe, Metro/Region, p. A1). Gil Lawrence Amancio, the New England regional director for American Atheists Inc. who brought the case to court, stated that the new display is a "confusing hodgepodge of stuff." Despite the new display, the town is appealing the ruling.