The City of Rehoboth Beach will not allow the nativity scene at the Bandstand for the second consecutive year, prompting a backlash from Christians who are speaking out, including Father Coco of St. Edmond Catholic Church who was forced to remove the nativity last year from the Bandstand.
Despite Mayor Paul Kuhns assertion that he and other city officials met with local faith-based leaders to come to a comprise earlier this year, Father Coco said that wasn’t the case and that the city did not involve his church in any negotiations.
“We weren’t involved in any negotiations this fall,” Father Coco said. “They simply came to us and said it couldn’t go up but according to the City Manager, and I was told by council people, that all of these groups they talked to said they had no problem with the creche being up.”
Father Coco said it was suggested that if he “just agreed to it being in front of the Chamber of Commerce, then this could all end.”
“Maybe that’s true, I don’t know,” Father Coco said. “But then I wouldn’t be doing what I believe to be the right thing. Christmas is about the birth of a man named Jesus Christ – that is an undisputed fact – that’s what Christmas is all about.”
Rehoboth Mayor Paul Kuhns reaffirmed his position from last year to refuse the church’s right to place their nativity scene at the Bandstand during an interview Wednesday morning where he couldn’t understand why Christians would be deeply offended over his position.
“I don’t understand why Christians would be deeply offended,” Mayor Kuhns said. “We are basically saying that on public property, with public resources comes public responsibility and this seperation of church and state is the city’s decision.”
Following news of the Mayor’s decision, Christians spoke out online, condemning the City’s position:
“Can’t believe this is actually happening again this year! Can’t wait to get a new Mayor! This one takes everything out of Christmas,” Karen Duke, of Rehoboth Beach wrote. “Might as well stop putting up the tree and having the parade everyone loves!”
Another resident wrote: “I would understand the Mayor’s concern if this were a permanent display – no place for religion in public places – but this is just a temporary display which represents the roots of the Holiday season as believed by a large portion of the population.”
“It is really sickening that for many, many years this nativity was proudly displayed at the bandstand,” another resident said. “Now that there is a mayor and other non-local administration is running the town they are changing tradition as well has demolishing the beautiful older homes that are part of Rehoboth’s history.”
Some suggested protesting the city’s position in Rehoboth Beach. It remains unclear at this time where the nativity scene will be placed.