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This Friday night, and again on Saturday night, the Parade of Lights will usher in the holiday season, passing by the Denver City and County Building, which will be bathed in light and feature a display that’s been constructed there for decades: a Nativity scene with a baby Jesus in a manger. Part of the tradition, Westword points out, has been some sort of protest against the spectacle, which this year comes in the form of three billboards downtown backed by the Colorado Coalition of Reason.
“The Nativity scene is a religious icon, and it’s on public property,” says Marvin Straus, the man behind the billboards (via The Denver Post). Way back in 1986, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled there was nothing unconstitutional about Denver’s display of the life-sized Christian figures, including Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, but that isn’t stopping Straus’ group from paying $1,000 for the billboards, which will say, “Move this Denver nativity scene to a church.”
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Nevertheless, city and county officials defend the Nativity scene, notes Boulder’s Daily Camera. “The display on the front steps of City Hall is a holiday tradition in Denver, having survived numerous legal challenges over the past 40 years,” says Ann Williams, communications director for Denver’s mayoral office. “Public sentiment and courts support this direction. Anyone is allowed to disagree, and the First Amendment gives them the right to do so.”