Civil Rights Group Calls for Removal of Newaygo Three Wisemen
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A popular, long standing Christmas decoration is in risk of getting taken down after a civil rights group opposes it standing on top of a public elementary school.
“It’s just a symbol of our community it’s always been there and we love it,” says Amy Postma.
For decades the Three Wisemen have watched over Newaygo from high on top of the elementary school. Three wisemen heading towards the star of Bethlehem. A tradition for Newaygo, but possibly an illegal tradition, a failure to separate church and state.
“It was pretty clear for us right from seeing it that this was going to be a violation, says Mitch Kahle, founder of the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, “You certainly can’t have religious symbols on the top of the public elementary school.”
People around town have been talking about the controversy over the weekend and very few want to have the decorations taken down.
“It would be just as ridiculous to say you can’t have Santa Claus in the bank taking pictures with kids,” says Postma, a lifelong Newaygo resident, “It’s a part of the festivities.”
The MACRA have done similar work in other Northern Michigan town, making sure religious paraphernalia is kept off public land. Whether it has community support or not.
“The constitution of the United States is not a document that is concerned with the majority opinion,” says Kahle.
“To me it’s a little thing, it’s Christmas,” says Newaygo resident David Stout, “Christ’s birthday and you celebrate that.”
The school district plans to have an official response by the end of the week, whether they take it down, move it to private land, or continue the fight to keep them up and possibly head to court.
“You can’t just take away something that we’ve always done,” says Postma, “It’s not harming anyone, it’s not hurting anyone so live and let live.”