Friday, December 22, 2017

Last Year for Zombie Nativity Scene

Here at Augoeides I have been covering the saga of Jasen Dixon's zombie nativity scene since it opened in Sycamore Township outside Cincinnati, Ohio in 2014.

Dixon was ordered to take down the display the first year, but the deadline he was given was the day after Christmas so it stayed up over the holiday. It returned in 2015 and the township again tried to get him to take it down. In 2016, the township finally gave up, but the scene was vandalized. Dixon set up the scene once more for 2017, but he has announced that this will be its last year.

Sycamore Township's Jasen Dixon said he originally wasn't planning to install the display this Christmas season. "But I get hundreds of emails from people, local fans," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's almost like a cult following."

Dixon installed the display complete with zombie Mary and zombie baby Jesus in early December. He said he'll put it in storage or sell it after it's taken down sometime after Christmas. When it debuted four years ago, the nativity scene made news worldwide and was met with both scorn and celebration.

Sycamore Township in previous years took Dixon to court for alleged zoning violations because of the structure built over the display but eventually dropped the case. Dixon's attorney argued the township was trying to suppress his freedoms. The township didn't issue any fines against Dixon last December and apparently won't go after him this year.

Dixon can count me as one of those fans. I think the whole thing is awesome. But sadly, I never was able to make it out to Ohio over the holidays, and since I won't be able to make the trip this year either I guess that means I'll never get a chance to see it in person.

The scene brought up some important legal issues regarding freedom of religion - in 2015, Dixon carefully studied the local regulations regarding lawn displays and conformed to them. The town came after him anyway, even though I doubt they would have done the same for a traditional Christmas display. They backed off in 2016, but that was after harassing Dixon over his display for two seasons.

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