Although the photos are not very old, they are certainly a thing of the past after a Wisconsin-based anti-religion group threatened to sue the Borough of Ellwood City in 2011 if they didn’t take down the traditional nativity display, which has since been absent from the property.
The group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, promotes nontheism and defends the constitutional separation between religion and government, their website states.
The last year the nativity was standing on Borough property was in 2011, after the council members voted 4-2 in favor of removing the scene from municipal property beginning in 2012.
A council member at the time stated the reason he voted in favor to move the nativity was due to the lawsuit risk.
“We cannot afford an expensive lawsuit,” said previous councilman DeCarbo. “I urge the council to move this thing.”
The dispute was extremely controversial; hundreds of local Ellwood City residents rallied against the foundation, stating that the nativity has been part of the Ellwood City community for dozens of years.
“Away in the manger, not away with the manger,” an Ellwoodian’s sign read at the protest.
People were so upset about the disappearance of the nativity that even years later a “mysterious nativity scene” appeared on Borough property in 2015, article here.
It has since been over 5 years since the nativity set-up, and it’s not something that will be coming back any time soon.