WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A holiday display is causing controversy. That may not sound like anything new, but this one is unique.
The mayor of Woodbridge is hoping to satisfy any constitutional questions by adding something new this year.
One could call it a sign of the times.
1010 WINS’ John Montone reports
It is a season of symbols outside the Woodbridge Town Hall — a Christmas tree, a nativity scene, a menorah — it’s all there, by law.
“You can only please some people some of the time, not all of the people all of the time,” resident Robert Rangel told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis on Thursday night.
“There’s much bigger issues to worry about than what’s in front of town hall,” Pat Spaldi said.
New this year is a banner observing the African cultural tradition of Kwanzaa, added by Mayor John McCormac.
He said it abides by state and federal rules separating church and state, adding that just a nativity scene or religious figures only, could have meant a lawsuit.
“The law says you can have multiple, different things and you can’t favor one over another, so we have a nativity, we have a menorah, we have a Kwanzaa, we have non-secular, we have Santa Claus, we have Frosty, we have everybody,” McCormac said.
The mayor admitted to broadening the display to be more inclusive, but it’s also safer legally. Still, with Kwanzaa having been around since the 1960s, the question is, why now?
“Some of this is sometimes sort of oversight,” Adebola Adekoya said.
Adekoya, 69, is a Woodbridge resident and a native of Ghana. He said the Kwanzaa banner looks like an add-on, an after-thought, but added at least it’s something for those who celebrate the holiday.
“Whether it is for show, whether it is for religion, or anything, it’s still okay,” Adekoya said.
One group keeping tabs on the display is a national atheist group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has threatened to sue.
In a statement, its attorney said “It’s definitely a scheme, a way to skirt the constitution and not follow it and it could still be a liability for the town in a court of law.”
“It’s not a way around the issue, it’s a way to be conformist with the law,” Mayor McCormac said in response.
The mayor said the ACLU and the League of Municipalities have approved the Woodbridge town display.
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