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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Framingham allows religious display on town green


Framingham's Board of Selectmen says the St. Bridget's Parish Pastoral Council may place a Nativity scene on the Village Green.

But don't ask for the town's help.

Town Manager Julian Suso said the selectmen granted the parish permission to install the display, which includes a figure of the Christ child, last night with the condition that "all erection and maintenance and disassembly be done privately with no town involvement."

Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the group believes such displays should be allowed under those conditions.

"Places like that are traditional public forums for expression," she said. "If some other group wants to come along and have a display that extols the First Amendment, they'd have to allow that also.

"As long as we're not talking about the government itself sponsoring a religious display, it's fine."

A parish official said this is the first time it has sought to place a creche on the town green during the holidays.

The display, which will feature a banner with the words "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," will face Edgell Road on the east side of the green.

It will be up from Dec. 14 until Jan. 7.

--John C. Drake

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