A shopping centre has caused outrage after refusing to allow a nativity scene to be part of its Christmas decorations.
It’s a tale as old as time; towns across the world put up displays of baby Jesus in the crib, minutes after being born, as part of a Christmas tradition to celebrate his birth.
Of course, I didn’t really get to experience this in its fully glory as my town’s nativity scene was padlocked within a huge box, to prevent people from vandalising it or stealing baby Jesus – which they often did.
Ah, the Christmas spirit.
Well, one shopping centre is being accused of ruining the festive spirit even more, as they’ve banned the nativity completely – much to the dismay of some shoppers.
The Thistles Shopping Centre in Stirling, Scotland, rejected a proposal by religious group, the Legion of St Mary’s Association, to have the traditional nativity scene displayed within the shopping centre.
The religious group wrote to Stephen Kerr MP about Thistles’ decision, who then contacted the shopping centre for comment. His response was then posted on Facebook, on a page called ‘Bring the Nativity Scene back to The Thistles, Stirling’.
This page has been created to raise public awareness that The Thistles in Stirling have refused permission for a…
The post said:
Their reason [for the ban] being that despite heavily promoting CHRISTmas for commercial gain, they ‘pride themselves on religious neutrality’ and so won’t allow a nativity to be present any longer…. [sic]
While I understand that no one wants religious or political evangelists in a shopping centre, the request was simply to have a nativity, which would be manned and anyone approaching could ask about it.
As seen in the letter, the MP sent the shopping centre’s response to the group, while emphasising ‘this decision is solely down to the Thistles Shopping Centre.’
The spokesperson for the shopping centre was quoted as saying:
Thistles Shopping centre prides itself on being religiously and politically neutral in its behaviour within the local community and with this in mind we do not feel it would be right to agree to host this type of promotion within a shopping centre. [sic]
Our customers come to enjoy a leisure activity without being subjected to individual organisation’s beliefs.
While some shoppers and religious groups have asked Thistles to reconsider – with a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh calling them ‘Grinch-like’, reports The Scottish Sun – this seems unlikely to happen.
The spokesperson for Thistles Shopping Centre went on to say:
We will not be willing to reconsider the application any further and hope that this final decision is accepted.
As reported by the Metro, a spokesperson for the Church of Scotland spoke out about the decision, saying it was done so the shopping centre would be able to purely focus on commercialism.
We find it very disappointing that the true meaning of Christmas has been completely lost here.
When a shopping centre can focus purely on commercialism to the exclusion of the reason for the celebration of Christmas it is a sad day for all of us.
Despite these comments, Thistles seems set in their decision, meaning shoppers won’t have a nativity this year.
At least this way baby Jesus won’t get stolen, so there’s always that!
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).