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Nativity scene returns to elementary school play

By The Associated Press
12.25.05

MUSTANG, Okla. — After a one-year absence, Mustang school officials decided to return a Nativity scene to an annual play at Lakehoma Elementary School.

Mustang Superintendent Karl Springer said he acted on advice from legal counsel when he yanked the Nativity from the play last December.

The baby Jesus was relocated from a feeding trough to a storage closet.

The removal sparked protest from concerned Christians and led to an emotional confrontation at a school board meeting because school officials allowed symbols of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah and the African-American harvest celebration of Kwanzaa to remain in the play.

Protesters organized a live Nativity across the street from the school auditorium on the night of the play. Organizers carried signs that included the words "Christ Is Christmas" and "No Christ. No Christmas. Know Christ. Know Christmas."

The school adopted a new seven-page religious-liberty policy, and the words, "some Christians believe" must be narrated into the play in reference to the Nativity to comply, school district communications officer Shannon Rigsby said.

Len Scott, Ward 6 city councilman and a Mustang High School graduate, said he thought last year's protest was effective.

"It was a very good way of expressing their beliefs," he said. "It wasn't a mean thing. It was kind of a silent protest.

"I'm very disappointed in how it transpired that other religions got to say their stuff. It seems like the Christian religion is being picked on more than anyone else."

Springer and others organized a task force in January to rewrite the policy about religious elements. The 30-member task force formulated the religious-liberty policy, which was adopted with unanimous support by the Mustang School Board.


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