Persistence paid off for Frances Burke, a senior resident of Bayside, New York. For many years, the Bayside Hills Civic Association refused Burke's request to include a nativity display in its annual holiday celebration which included a menorah and tree lighting ceremony at the public park.
This year, however, Burke teamed up with the Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which seeks to restore public acknowledgment of the religious significance of Christmas. As a result, for the first time in its history, the Bayside Hills Civic Association prominently displayed a nativity scene as part of its holiday celebration.
The Law Center was assisted in its endeavor on behalf of Burke by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which donated the nativity display, and New York Councilman Tony Avella, who assisted with obtaining the proper permits from the New York City Parks Department.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, commented, "Frances Burke's perseverance and willingness to fight for the nativity display and against the Civic Association's discriminatory practice is an example to all Christians. There is a clear and growing trend among municipalities, public schools and universities, major commercial establishments and corporations to secularize and even ignore the reason for celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ. As long as groups like the ACLU exist, the War on Christmas will continue. The antidote to the ACLU is more Frances Burkes."
Earlier in the Christmas season, the Thomas More Law Center armed its 500 pro bono attorneys with a legal memorandum on how to deal with local issues surrounding the celebration of Christmas by public entities. Each year the Thomas More Law Center handles scores of inquiries and disputes regarding the recognition and celebration of Christmas. Many of these cases, like the Burke case, are favorably resolved without recourse to court action.
Robert Muise, the Thomas More Law Center attorney who handled Frances Burke's case stated, "A crèche depicts the historical origins of Christmas, which has long been recognized as a National Holiday. To exclude this one passive symbol from year-end holiday displays demonstrates hostility toward the Christian faith."
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at http://www.thomasmore.org/.