State Capitol orders menorah to be taken down

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LANSING, MI. (WILX) - A few weeks ago, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor brought out his menorah to stand next to the state's Christmas tree at Silver Bells in the city, and a few days later, he was asked to take it down.

Mayor Andy Schor brought out his menorah to stand next to the state's Christmas tree at Silver Bells in the city, and a few days later, he was asked to take it down. (Source WILX)

The mayor is questioning the decision made, so NEWS 10 sent in a reporter to figure out what the problem is, or is it just a matter of procedure?

We found out that in this case....it's a little bit of both.

"I've seen it (in) other states," said Mayor Schor. "I believe Lansing is a very welcoming city, and we want everyone to be able to celebrate the holiday, and be very open and welcoming."

But the mayor's menorah will have to wait because the Michigan State Capital Commission is denying his request saying that it would violate the separation between church and state.

"That is actually inaccurate," said Schor. "The Supreme Court said that a menorah, along with a Christmas tree, shows that it's a secular holiday display."

But there's confusion as to whether or not the menorah is a religious symbol or not.

"It signifies the holiday season, so when they're both up together, it doesn't violate the separation of church and state," Schor told us.

So we talked to John Truscott of the Capital Commission.

"Before we were formed, the Jewish Federation weighed in on that, and they said that according to them, the menorah is a primary religious symbol, and therefore not equivalent to a Christmas tree, so I think we're still under that understanding," he said. "They objected to a menorah being put on the capitol lawn on those grounds."

Even with the debate of whether the menorah is secular or religious, Truscott said the menorah in question did not meet the requirements needed for it to be approved.

One of those requirements are that it had to be four feet tall, the one in City Hall is nine feet above the ground.

"If he would agree to those conditions that everyone else agrees to who puts something on the capitol lawn, then yes, we would have absolutely approved it."

Truscott made it clear they do not discriminate when it comes to religion.

"In fact, we approved a menorah display that will be going up within a few days. There's a nativity scene, and even the Satanists put something up, so whether you agree with them or not, they have a right to free speech."

Mayor Schor told NEWS 10 he won't try and get the menorah up this year, but says he hopes next year, a menorah can stand next to the state's Christmas tree.

According to the Capitol Commission, each exhibit that goes on the capitol lawn can be put up in the morning but has to be taken down overnight.

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