The real reason Gig Harbor can’t have a nativity scene

Dec 9, 2016, 3:30 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2016, 4:25 pm

Gig Harbor...

An annual nativity scene by a private resident in Gig Harbor (similar to this one) was cancelled for 2016 because of threats waged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. (AP)


It’s an annual American tradition. As December comes along, festive lights come out, trees are decorated, carols are sung, and some national secular organization targets small towns far and wide for their local holiday customs. Such is the case in Gig Harbor.

This year, Gig Harbor was faced with a potential lawsuit over a manger scene that has been displayed on public property for almost a decade. It’s put up by private resident John Skansie. Another private resident brought the scene to the attention of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation which threatened legal action, according to the News Tribune.

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“I think the people that are filing this are sticklers, obviously,” KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney said. “But I think they feel they are sticklers for a good cause. This idea that we need to detach ourselves from this religious component, the Christianity component, of this country.  Do they really think there are people hiding in their homes afraid to go out because Christians are dominating them? No. But they see it as a Constitutional principle.”

The city claims that the Christmas nativity scene is not city funded or supported, rather just free speech by a private resident allowed on public property. But instead of taking time to make that argument, Gig Harbor decided not to have the scene on public property this year.

The core issue is that in the United States there is a separation of church and state. The Supreme Court has even ruled against allowing religious displays on government property as it may imply the government supports a specific religion. But that is not what the Gig Harbor issue is about, according to KIRO Radio’s Tom and Curley Show.

“I always find these people, the sticklers, it’s a group that just doesn’t like other people” co-host John Curley said. “Do you really believe that a plastic Jesus sitting in a plastic manger, that it’s somehow establishment of religion? Do you really believe the state is forcing a religion on you? Absolutely not.”

“It doesn’t affect you one bit, but you just don’t like people,” Curley said. “And you use the force of government to stop the people from putting in baby Jesus … They’re not really concerned. They don’t really feel like religion is being pushed upon them. Your life will go on. You can walk right by it.”


John Curley and Jake Skorheim on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 3pm for John Curley and Jake Skorheim.

John Curley and Jake Skorheim

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