Delaware Town Bans All Public Displays; Media Makes It About the Nativity Scene December 7, 2019

Delaware Town Bans All Public Displays; Media Makes It About the Nativity Scene

Just in time for the holidays, the town of Georgetown, Delaware has created a new policy prohibiting all unattended displays and structures in their town circle — and that includes a Nativity scene that local churches have displayed there in previous years.

The time of year has nothing to do with it: Georgetown conducts an annual review of municipal policies and codes to address any problems, gaps, or issues that have arisen in the year preceding. Nor is this a question about religion in the public sphere.

Nonetheless, the tone of media reporting has left some Georgetown locals grumbling about their religious freedom.

Town manager Gene Dvornick explains that the real issue being addressed here is safety:

No unattended displays are permitted on The Circle any longer. It could be anything that is unattended — posters, signs, or where somebody comes up and sets up a display or a table and leaves information. It would have to be attended the entire time… Most of it is from a safety standpoint, as we have been seeing more and more winds, stuff blowing out from The Circle in the traffic lane. Most of it’s for protection and safety.

As they do every year, the municipality reviewed its by-laws. When they found that strong winds dislodging Georgetown Circle displays had become a problem over the past year, they created the new policy as a solution. If someone isn’t there watching over a display, it can’t be there. It’s that simple.

But local news channel WBOC, in its coverage of the story, emphasized the absence of the Nativity scene in particular. They described Georgetown as “saying no to a nativity scene being set up on public property,” giving the impression that the issue was religious content in the public sphere, not the risk to drivers and pedestrians posed by blowing items.

The coverage further promoted the misconception by featuring interviews with locals discussing the importance of celebrating holiday traditions from “any ethnic group, any religious group.” An oft-repeated quote by local businessman Charlie Koskey makes the town look positively Grinchy:

We have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the center and our light poles all speak of the Christmas season, and I think the nativity scene falls within that. I think it’s important that these symbols represent the faiths of everyone that’s celebrating this time of year.

Decorations that “speak of the Christmas season” hardly represent the full breadth of holidays being celebrated at this time of year, but that’s beside the point. It’s misleading journalism to treat this as a “War on Christmas” story.

It’s only at the very end of the two-minute news clip that the local anchor clarifies: the policy is “not targeted at religious displays, but all unattended displays.”

Naturally, given the framing, commenters are demanding that “the bigoted and intolerant Left” stop “taking Christ out of Christmas.” The story was also picked up by religious news outlet Faithwire (which, incidentally, also offers a program “to combat addiction to pornography and sexual sin”).

The Georgetown Circle nativity ban is a non-story, made into a story only by the media’s framing of it.

It’s a good reminder, in case we needed one, that the “War on Christmas” is a false flag operation, more about drumming up outrage than about any real battle for the soul of the culture.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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