ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — People packed the Ellwood City borough council meeting Monday night, urging council members to reconsider a recent vote on relocating a Nativity scene to private land.

For about 50 years, the crèche has been placed on the grounds of the municipal building, but a group from Wisconsin called the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained, saying it violated the separation of church and state.

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So last month, council voted 4 to 2 to move the scene off government property in the hope of avoiding legal action.

People with signs and t-shirts that read: “God belongs in my city” asked council members to schedule a new vote and not cower the prospect of a possible legal fight.

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Ellwood resident David Hogue said, “We’re not a town to back down from a push-come-to-shove situation.”

Former Mayor Sam Teolis said: “We have a right to believe in what we believe in. They have a right not to believe in God. It’s their privilege. If they want to go to hell, they can go. I’ll help send them!” The crowd cheered.

Not everyone agreed, however. “I don’t give a damn where they put it as long as it’s not on government property,” said Bill Kaszycki, who traveled from Elizabeth to be there.

While council did not schedule a vote to reconsider its previous decision, the current mayor believes it could still wind up on the next meeting’s agenda. Mayor Anthony Court says this is not over yet.

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David Highfield