Regulation Curbing Creche in Boston Sparks Debate

November 15, 2000

Source: The Boston Globe

On November 15, 2000, the Boston Globe reported that "A Knights of Columbus council is suing the town of Lexington for refusing to allow it to put a Nativity scene on the town's historic Battle Green. In a suit scheduled to be filed today in federal court, the Catholic religious group accuses the town of unconstitutionally limiting religious expression by preventing a creche from being placed in a public area...Jeanne Krieger, chairwoman of Lexington's Board of Selectmen, said the new regulation was passed only to preserve the integrity of Lexington Common, the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The regulation addresses only the type of displays that are acceptable and does not limit any particular views from being expressed, she said...The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an intense disagreement that has split the town for months. Critics of the creche argue its placement on public land constitutes town sponsorship of Christianity. The Knights of Columbus, which has overseen the creche display since 1973 along with the Masons, has joined other groups in defending the creche as a town tradition that is protected under the Constititution. In the midst of the dispute, selectmen voted 4-1 in July to limit public displays on the common to eight hours and to require that all such displays be staffed...Krieger said the board acted after Lexington residents raised concerns not just about the creche but about other requested displays, including a political advertisement and a Jewish sukkah. She said religious displays or events can still use the Battle Green - as long as they conform with the new regulation."