New York Village Would Rather Remove 9-Foot Menorah than Allow Nativity Scene

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y., December 20, 2006 ( - Village of Briarcliff Manor officials have decided to remove their entire holiday display, including a 9-foot-tall menorah, from a public park rather than allow a resident to add a crèche after Alliance Defense Fund attorneys and allied attorneys won a temporary restraining order Friday from a federal judge.  The lawsuit and TRO motion were filed Dec. 11 after the Briarcliff Manor Village’s Board of Trustees refused to permit the display.

“The village’s constitutional violations regarding religious expression in public make them look like the grinches who stole Christmas and Chanukah from the citizens of Briarcliff Manor,” said ADF-allied attorney John Stepanovich.  “It is truly sad that officials have chosen not only to thumb their noses at religion but at the justice system as well, since our client’s request of equal access for a privately-funded crèche in addition to the menorah was entirely constitutional.”

  In place of where the holiday display once stood, village officials displayed a sign criticizing U.S. District Judge William C. Conner’s decision to grant the temporary restraining order.  The federal court judge’s decision forced officials to either remove the menorah or grant resident Henry Ritell’s request to display a nativity scene alongside it. 

  The sign read, “The Village erected a menorah and Christmas tree display in a spirit of inclusion.  In response to a federal court order the entire display has been removed.  We disagree with the court.”  Following outcry from the public, village officials removed the sign.

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