Chicago, IL – Last week, Liberty Counsel asked Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to stop the religious discrimination against the film The Nativity Story, which has been banned from an event in Daley Plaza. The city of Chicago told organizers of the annual Christkindlmarket (Christ child market) festival not to allow the showing of clips of The Nativity Story, a new film produced and distributed by New Line Cinema, a Time Warner Company. Festival organizers, the German American Chamber of Commerce, complied with the city's request and returned the $12,000 sponsorship cost to the filmmaker.
Liberty Counsel faxed a letter to Mayor Daley, informing him that the city must not discriminate against religious viewpoints about Christmas nor interfere with the business relationship between the filmmaker and the festival organizers. Liberty Counsel also urged the festival organizers to accept The Nativity Story as a sponsor.
The city claims that promoting The Nativity Story on public property could offend non-Christians and "may be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market." The city did not comment on whether the mayor was concerned that ousting the film from the popular Christmas festival would offend Christians and the vast majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas.
The Nativity Story will start playing tomorrow in theaters nationwide and is expected to be popular with viewers of all ages. The film begins with paranoid King Herod and moves through the story of Mary's visitation by the angel, Mary's visit with Elizabeth, Joseph's visitation by an angel and their trip to Bethlehem where Jesus is born. The film contains realistic depictions of everyday Jewish life and exceptional cinematography. Most of the scenes were filmed in Matera, Italy, the same location used for The Passion of the Christ.
Liberty Counsel has been involved in defending religious liberty cases since 1989. On its Web site, http://lc.org/helpsavechristmas, as part of its fourth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, Liberty Counsel offers legal memoranda to educate government officials, employers and others that it is legal and proper to celebrate Christmas. Liberty Counsel will educate and, if necessary, litigate to ensure that Christmas is not censored.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented: "Only political correctness gone mad can conceive of booting a film about the birth of Christ from a Christmas celebration, especially a celebration whose name means 'Christ child market.' We honor mothers on Mothers' Day, but in Chicago we can't acknowledge Christ at Christmas? How rude and insensitive it is to enjoy the festivities of a party but not invite the one who is being honored. Chicago officials have violated the core of the First Amendment by censoring the film for its religious viewpoint."