It has been reported that Lighthouse Christian Church was confronted with a difficulty last Thursday after receiving a message with an order to remove the nativity scene from the front of their church. The email came from the Ranch Maintenance Agreement Board, the property association who claims to be in charge of maintaining the land in front of the church. They ordered the church, managed by pastor Mike Openshaw, to remove the statue by the end of the day Friday, according to NBC News.
“Please be advised that the board of directors shall have the display removed by end of day, tomorrow, Friday if it is not done so by the Lighthouse Church," ordered the email.
Then, immediately after typing up a response to the email, another popped into his inbox. It was another order, but this telling him not to take it down.
“I prepared a response and before I could send it, a representative of the company called me and apologized for the whole thing and we had every right to put this up,” Openshaw said. “[She said] we could display a Nativity scene, sorry this happened, hoped I would forgive her and I said sure and thought everything was fine.”
Another two hours later, that same woman called back to inform pastor Openshaw that the president of the board was outside removing the Nativity scene himself.
“I raced up here and he was already gone, and I found the Nativity scene behind the monument in a jumble all disconnected and no one was here. He had come and gone quickly,” Openshaw said.
“We filed an insurance claim [but] the property association said that's our sign on our property and we have to fix it,” he continued.
And indeed, the nativity scene was not simply taken down, but removed and placed into a pile. NBC News described it as being put into a "heap behind the church."
The Daily Caller has reported that congregants held a public demonstration in front of the church on Sunday to protest the destruction of their Nativity scene. They claimed that the property association violated their religious liberty.
The pastor was particularly upset that nobody even talked to him about it. It's a sad example to our youth, he remarked, and it's a sad commentary on our secular culture, which seems incapable of talking and humanely disagreeing with each other.
“This is Christmas time – to put up a Nativity is common it’s normal,” he said.
The Daily Caller notes that trouble with the nativity scene began in October after members of the church set it up and covered up their church sign after a pickup crashed into it. The church filed an insurance claim, but the property association board claimed that the church had to repair the sign since it was on church property. The property association then reversed their claim, saying instead that the property actually belonged to the board.
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