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Ellwood City Prepares For Court Battle Over Nativity Scene

(Source: KDKA-TV)

(Source: KDKA-TV)

GRIFFIN Marty Griffin
Marty Griffin returned to KDKA-TV as an Investigative Reporter in...
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ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — The battle continues over a nativity scene in Ellwood City.

Last week, city council, worried about the cost of litigation, voted to move the nativity off city property next year.

Now, a defiant Mayor Anthony Court says not so fast.

“My plan is to fight this till the end,” he said. “If that means going into the court system, we’ve had ton of support from attorneys and people that can help us in this cause and I believe in fighting it till the end.”

An atheist group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation calls the nativity scene’s location in front of the municipal building illegal and says it violates the constitution.

When council voted to move the nativity, the group declared victory. Now it looks like this one is headed for the courts. At least two council members and the mayor say so be it.

“Many wars have been fought over religion over the years,” Ellwood City Councilman Ralph Chiapetta said. “And I think this is just another one of those that has to be fought.”

The dissenting council members say this town sent a clear message to city leaders in early December when a thousand people showed up to protest the possible removal of the nativity.

That message is preserve this tradition.

The mayor says he will select a lawyer or lawyers to represent the community, saying more than a dozen have offered to work pro bono. Then he says he will lobby council to reverse their vote.

The next council meeting is Jan. 9, 2012.

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