Religious Group Protests Holiday Display in Florida

Members of a Christian group are protesting what they call discrimination after a city in Florida left a manger out of a holiday display.

In addition to a Christmas tree, menorah and sign that reads "Seasons Greetings" on display inside Boca Raton City Hall, the Christian Coalition religious group also wants to see a manger displayed for the holidays, Fox7News reported.

Anthony Verdugo of the Christian Coalition said the nativity scene, not a Christmas tree, should be on display as the symbol of the holiday.

Several members of the Christian group marched into city hall on Friday afternoon with mangers in hand and placed them below the Christmas tree inside. They said they had filed a formal request to include a manger in the holiday display.

But when they were told "no" by public officials, the group placed the nativity scenes below the tree in protest, saying it was religious discrimination to place a menorah in the scene without a manger.

"We came here as tax-paying citizens for redress of grievances toward local governments asking them for fairness, asking them for equality, asking them to allow us to display the nativity scene just like they've chosen to display the menorah, which is also another religious symbol," Verdugo told Fox7News.

These citizens would like to see the manger made a permanent part of the display.

"We feel like we have been marginalized, and we feel like they have not given any credibility to the Christian faith," said the Rev. Mark Boykin, pastor of  the Church of All Nations. "We have determined that we are not going to be put off, we are not going to be ignored, we are not going to be marginalized. We are going to seek an answer."

The city released a statement saying: "The City of Boca Raton celebrates the holiday season by having displays in the lobbies of public buildings in a manner consistent with court and other judicial buildings. These displays are city-owned decorations and are comprised of a Christmas tree, a menorah and a 'Seasons Greetings' sign."

City officials said they have offered Sanborn Square Park as a spot of free expression of religious symbols, but the city can only display city-bought ornaments within their government buildings. "Our city believes that your First Amendment rights are only exercised at Sanborn Square?" Boykin said. "That's a disgrace."

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