French Court Bans Christmas Nativity Scene Displays in Public Buildings

Children look at a Nativity scene at the Christmas market in the harbour of Emden, Germany, November 27, 2013. | (Photo: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer)

A court in France has ruled that Christmas nativity scenes cannot be displayed in public buildings unless they are installed for cultural, artistic or festive purposes alone.

The ruling by the French Council of State, a body of the national government that acts both as legal adviser of the executive branch and as the supreme court for administrative justice, comes in relation to a Nativity scene installed in the Town Hall in Béziers in 2014 by its Mayor, Robert Ménard, against which a complaint had been filed for alleged violation of the country's secularization laws, according to Premier.

However, Ménard has been displaying a nativity scene every year since the complaint, and says he will put up one this year, too, according to Breitbart. The mayor has modified the installations to reflect local regional customs.

On Twitter, Ménard wrote that the town will never move away from its culture.

A city view shows the French flag above the skyline of the French capital as the Eiffel Tower and roof tops are seen in Paris, France, March 30, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier)

Last month, a top administrative court ruled that a cross that's part of a statue of the late Pope John Paul II in the town of Ploërmel must be removed.

Ploërmel was gifted the statue in 2006, which depicts the late pontiff in prayer, standing beneath an arch and a large cross, as designed by Russian artist Zourab Tsereteli. The court ruled that it violates the 1905 law that imposed strict separation of Church and State.

The town was given six months to remove the cross, though the pope and the arch can remain.

Beata Szydło, prime minister of Poland, where John Paul II was from, has offered to take in the statue in order to "save it from censorship."

"Our great Pole, a great European, is a symbol of a Christian, united Europe," Szydło said. He also slammed the "dictates of political correctness" and the "secularization of the state," which she accused of promoting "values which are alien to our culture, which leads to terrorizing Europeans in their everyday life."

"The statue is part of the landscape of Ploërmel for 12 years, and it does not disturb the inhabitants," Patrick Le Diffon, the mayor of Ploërmel, said, according to Breitbart London. "On the contrary, it is an undeniable tourist asset for the municipality. The mayor added that "this monument is a work of art and it requires the authorization from the artist to modify it."

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