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French top court bans Christmas nativity scenes from public buildings

Fri 17 Nov 2017
By Premier Journalist

The French Council of State has ruled for a ban on Christmas nativity scenes (“crèches” in French) in public buildings “unless special circumstances show that this has a cultural, artistic or festive“.

The decision of the Council of State relates to the Nativity scene that the Mayor of Béziers (a French town in Occitaine) Robert Ménard had installed in the Town Hall in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, a crèche was again installed but with a “more cultural and festive dimension“, accompanied by a Christmas tree and a mailbox to write to Santa Claus, Ménard said in April 2017.

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The Council of State ruled that Christmas nativity scenes are legal in other public spaces as long as they are not proselytising.

Secularism was a founding principle of the French Republic and was enshrined in a 1905 law separating Church and State.


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