Gig Harbor residents urge ‘Don’t Hate, Celebrate’
Dec 13, 2016, 3:08 PM | Updated: 3:11 pm
You’re sued if you do, and you’re sued if you don’t. The City of Gig Harbor is in a tough spot.
Gig Harbor decided not to allow a Christmas nativity scene in one of its parks this year — breaking an eight-year tradition — after it was threatened with legal action by the national non-profit Freedom From Religion Foundation. Now, local Gig Harbor residents are speaking up, and another threat of legal action has been waged if the city doesn’t allow the nativity scene.
Such a resident is John Skansi who is saying that he will sue the city if they don’t let him put up a nativity scene. The Tacoma News Tribune reports that Skansi was offered private property, but he declined. Skansi told the Tribune:
My request is to put the nativity back in the park ASAP. Like this week.
The Tacoma News Tribune reports that about 25 people stood in front of Gig Harbor’s city hall Monday for a rally they called “Don’t Hate, Celebrate.” The crowd concluded its demonstration by flooding the council chambers with public comment, urging the council to allow the Christmas display this year.
The crowd held signs stating that people should not discriminate against Jesus, and that he was the most inclusive man in history. Others told the Tribune that “For someone to tell me not to celebrate (Christmas), it is discriminatory.”
If you ask KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney, the organization against the Christmas display are sticklers, but think they are doing good. Co-host John Curley, however, insists that this is really about a group that simply doesn’t like people.
“It doesn’t affect you one bit, but you just don’t like people,” Curley said.
Since 2008, Skansi he has set up a nativity display at a Gig Harbor park named after his family. Skansi did it all on his own, the city took no part in it. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation says it received a complaint from a Gig Harbor resident last spring about the religious display on public property. It found out that the city had no permitting process for such private displays in a public setting. As such, the city could be favoring a religion by allowing the scene, which goes against the constitution. So the foundation told the city it would sue if the display went up.
Gig Harbor opted to come up with a permitting plan for such displays, but in the meantime, officials decided to skip 2016 to save on legal expenses.