Dover's nativity scene is back up at its former home on the square after being moved last year in response to a legal challenge. (Tusco TV)
DOVER (WJER) - Dover’s nativity scene is back up and on city property at the corner of Wooster and Third Street in front of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Law Director Doug O’Meara says the city moved the nativity to church property last year after the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened a lawsuit because a religious display was on city property.
“When we looked at this a year ago it was a close call. The movement to the church property totally eliminated any type of exposure whatsoever. Numerous people wanted to move it back to the square where it was before,” he says.
Mayor Richard Homrighausen in May announced the nativity would be moving back to city property this year. O’Meara says it is part of a bigger display that includes non-religious items like the Santa house, colored lights, and elves.
“That’s why it was always a close question and since it was one of many, there was at least a very good argument that you could make that the nativity scene was part of an overall holiday display and therefore was appropriate under the case law that had been rendered under the various courts including the Supreme Court of the United States,” he explains.
O’Meara says he hasn’t heard about any legal challenges from the freedom from religion group or anybody else since the mayor announced the move back to city property.