Pastor Protests Nativity Scene Snub in Boca

City hall displays menorah, tree but no baby Jesus

A group of Palm Beach County Christians say Jesus is the reason for the season, but he's getting no love in Boca Raton.

Pastor Mark Boykin, pastor of the Church of All Nations, says Boca won't allow a nativity scene at city hall, even though there's a Jewish menorah on full display.

"With all due respect they're being duplicitous, they're being disingenuous and they're not being forthright with us," said Boykin.

Boykin claims the city is discriminating against Christians by censoring the nativity scene, or creche, and plans on holding a protest outside Boca city hall Friday with about 50 of his followers.

"I don't understand why when you have such a large faith community of Christians you would not want to try and at least placate them, if not please them because it is a symbol of veneration around the world for Christians," he said.

Boykin says city leaders consider the menorah a secular symbol, but he adds that according to the Supreme Court, the menorah is considered a Jewish religious symbol.

He claims the city put up a Christmas tree to deflect any controversy.

"They simply do not want to [put up a nativity] because they have stated that 'we have given you the Christmas tree, be happy,'" Boykin said.

"I don't have a big problem with it," said Rabbi Barry Silver of Lake Worth, on displaying a creche. Silver did say he felt religion and government need to stay separate.

"This creche really brings out a crescendo of arguing and fighting and to me, this whole season is really, there should be a crescendo of love, of faith, of hope," Silver said.

The city of Boca Raton issued a statement saying they use holiday displays "in a manner consistent with Supreme Court and other judicial rulings.

"Although the City does not accept donations of holiday decorations for the lobbies of City buildings, individuals, groups, religious institutions, and others are encouraged to erect decorations in the center of the downtown area in the City’s Sanborn Square Park, located on Federal Highway just north of Palmetto Park Road.  Sanborn Square Park serves as a first amendment, free speech area for the City."

"We do not want to divide our community," said Boykin. "We love and have great respect for the Jewish faith and our Jewish brothers and sisters and we want to unify the city not divide it."

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