Pittsburgh faces parking dispute over downtown Nativity scene

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- City officials said they would ask a private group, the Christian Leaders Fellowship, to remove signs permitting 10-minute parking near a downtown replica of the Vatican's manger scene. A lawyer complained police violated the U.S. Constitution by granting the parking waiver.

The creche has been on display the last four years.

Lawyer Jon Pushinsky raised an objection on grounds of church-state separation, and local American Civil Liberties Union director Witold Walczak said he would contact officials if the signs were not removed.

The Rev. Ronald Lengwin, a Roman Catholic priest and Christian Leaders spokesman, said, ''It seems to me an effort to remove God as much as possible from every aspect of life.''

But Walczak said the parking variance makes it look like ''the city is promoting that particular display.''

City attorney Jacqueline Morrow said she agrees the signs must disappear, not because of constitutional claims but because a private group cannot install parking signs or enforce regulations.

The civil liberties union sued Allegheny County over a creche in the county courthouse that the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed in 1989.

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