Southeast Idaho post office forced to remove Nativity scene

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RUPERT, Idaho (AP) — A window painting of a Nativity scene has been removed from a southeastern Idaho city's post office after a national watchdog group said it violated the separation between church and state.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation lodged a complaint against the Rupert Post Office, saying the life-size window painting was a religious symbol and therefore didn't belong on public property, according to The Times-News ( ).

"They (a patron) just let us know there was a religious message on their post office and asked for our help in removing it," said Madeline Ziegler, an FFRF attorney.

The painting was recreated last week across the street on the windows of a privately owned building. The post office's windows now have the phrase "Peace on Earth Good Will toward Men" and a wreath painted on them.

Some Rupert residents say the removal went too far, and see it as an attempt to quash Christmas.

"I think it is an extreme over-stepping of political correctness," said Minidoka County resident Teri Stably, who paints similar scenes and used to paint the Paul Post Office's windows. "We live in a small town that is predominately Christian. And we just have to sit back and take it. It really irritates me."

Rupert resident Gary Schorzman said stamps feature the Nativity scene, the Virgin Mary and Jesus, and the post office is closed on Christmas. To him, that opens to door to the decoration.

"It seems a little hypocritical to me," he said. "If that's the way they want it, why don't they keep the post office open on Christmas and not allow religious material to go through there?"

Postmaster Oscar Egbert took full blame for allowing the painting.

"It was an oversight on my part," said Egbert, who has been postmaster since April. "The manual clearly states you can't have any religious depictions on the building. I just didn't realize it until it was brought to my attention."


Information from: The Times-News,

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