On Tuesday, the Public Works Department helped move the display to a privately owned lot, rather than the Horseshoe Lake Park.
City leaders told reporters they didn’t want to move the manger, but made the decision after seeking guidance from the city attorney, who explained that keeping it on public land was a siren call to anti-religious groups to come and sue.
“I wouldn’t have chosen to do this, but it’s in the best interest of the city to do so,” said Mayor Will Finn.
Finn said he personally sought out the new location and permission from the property owner, after about five people called and complained to the city within the last few days.
Jenny Tingley, a resident, who was able to see the display from her home, said she was surprised and disappointed to see it removed.
“Our grandkids love it when they put little baby Jesus out,” Tingley said. “I didn’t think it was offensive at all. I thought it added to the look of our town when it’s the holidays.”
“I’m just sorry that people got offended by it, because we enjoy it – everybody we know enjoys it,” Tingley added.
Marc McVey was one of the people who took it upon himself to help destroy the town’s historical culture.
“I wrote the mayor and the city manager and said, ‘Hey, I’m not sure if this is keeping with what the law allows,’” McVey said.
McVey said he reached out after visiting the park and seeing the nativity set up in what he suspected was a public location.
McVey said he’s happy with the city’s response.
However, he’s just about the only person happy about it. The city estimates it has received about 50 complaints in just the first few days.
Mayor Finn sent a statement on the decision, which reads in part:
“As one of the city caretakers, I believe the move was the best for the city and for all of us…. I personally see the nativity as a symbol of Christmas and feel comfort when seeing it displayed. I’m also grateful for the community’s understanding of the difficult but important decision…This move… puts the nativity in a more visible location within our city, while respecting the public nature of public property.”
While some people see this as a compromise, many others are sick and tired of having the Christian culture downgraded and erased from the public square.
They argue that America was great because it followed the Judeo-Christian, Hebrew God, and the unrelenting push to remove his presence from a holiday dedicated to His Son is not only wrong, it’s dangerously so.
But… in Woodland, at least five people are happy, right?