Chicago Mayor Urged to End Showing of Nativity Scene at City Hall

The City of Chicago was urged today to end a practice of exhibiting on the main floor corridor of City Hall, a portrayal of the Nativity Scene during the Christmas period. The appeal was made by six organizations and five individuals. The organizations included three Jewish groups and the individuals, one rabbi.

Their statement said that a Creche had been exhibited at City Hall for the past eight years despite the belief of many organizations and individuals that “this display of a religious symbol on public property violates the American constitutional principle of separation of Church and State as set forth in the first amendment of the Federal Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the Illinois Constitution.”

The statement said that officials representing the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress, the Chicago Board of Reform Rabbis, the Chicago Area Council of Liberal Churches, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Jewish War Veterans and the Chicago Council of Traditional Synagogues met with Mayor Richard J. Daley last June 9 to discuss the problem.

“The conference fully reviewed the constitutional and religious grounds” against such a display, the statement said, adding that “after a full and frank discussion, Mayor Daley told the group that he would take this matter under consideration.” The participants in the conference said that the statement was being issued, five months after the meeting with the Mayor, “so that there may be public understanding and discussion of this situation.”

The signatories added that they were urging “the city officials and our fellow citizens who are responsible for this annual display to take those steps necessary to maintain the spirit and the letter of religious freedom in our community by keeping our public buildings free from displays of religious symbols.”

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