Reporting Mike Puccinelli
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) – The group that sets up Nativity scenes at Daley Plaza and the Illinois State Capitol has been denied permission to place a Nativity scene in a park in Arlington Heights.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, at North School Park in Arlington Heights, a Christmas tree has been put up, and presents have been placed under the tree, but you won’t find a Nativity scene among the other Christmas decorations.
“It’s missing the most important thing, the real soul of Christmas, and that’s the birth of Christ,” said Jim Finnegan, co-chairman of the Illinois Nativity Scene Committee, who asked the village for permission to display a Nativity scene inside the park on Friday.
“The board came back with ‘We just don’t want to make any change at this time,” Finnegan said.
Finnegan’s group owns the Nativity scene that’s been on display in Daley Plaza during the holiday season for nearly three decades. It also erects a display in the Illinois State Capitol.
He said it essentially boils down to a situation in which what’s good for Daley Plaza and the State Capitol isn’t good enough for Arlington Heights.
“And yet, clearly, the First and the Fourteenth Amendment spells it out as clearly as you could want it,” Finnegan said.
Catherine Meyer was relaxing in the village’s open sleigh at North School Park this week as her daughter and friends played nearby. She said the park’s board should reverse its decision.
“I see three dreidels just a few feet away from me here, and that’s a Jewish symbol,” she said. “It feels like there’s a lot of space here. They could just include everybody. “
Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, is representing Finnegan’s group in an effort to get the board to change its decision and allow the Nativity scene at North School Park.
“If there’s no room at the inn, well the manger will do. There’s plenty of room in this park,” he said. “We don’t want to threaten anybody, but these are important, fundamental, First Amendment rights. And we expect that the village will say yes. “
If not, their next meeting might be in court.
Arlington Heights officials declined to comment, deferring to their attorneys, who said they are in negotiations.