Removal of nativity scene sparks outrage in Guelph

Stone Road Mall’s removal of nativity scene sparks outrage in Guelph

Stone Road Mall’s removal of nativity scene sparks outrage in Guelph

Rob O’Flanagan, Mercury staff
Tue Nov 27 2012 08:23:00

(…) A once prominently displayed nativity scene is now homeless after Guelph’s largest shopping centre decided there was no room at the mall.(…)

GUELPH — There’s no room for a nativity scene at the mall.

After a decade of being part of the Stone Road Mall’s seasonal ornamentation, an elaborate plaster scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ and the attending wise men, camels and angel, has been pulled from the mall’s festive season decorations. The mall’s general manager says it is a simple business decision related to space.

But the decision has ignited outrage, petitioning, and a call to boycott Guelph’s largest shopping centre. Representatives from a number of churches have inundated the mall’s management with messages decrying the decision to remove what is universally accepted as a central symbol of Christmas.

There is a place for a nativity scene in a shopping mall, many opponents of the decision said, especially given that the meaning and spirit of Christmas are what drive gift giving, and therefore shopping, at this time of year.

“Our decision was strictly a business decision,” said Tony Stapley, Stone Road Mall’s general manager.

“We’re a shopping centre trying to maximize our potential.”

He explained that a number of retail opportunities specific to the festive season have emerged and the space the nativity scene has taken up for many years was needed to accommodate a vendor in what is known as the common area of the mall.

As well, he added, the mall’s holiday season décor has been changing and will continue to evolve. There has been a general downsizing of decorations, including reducing the number of trees, garlands, animated figures, polar bears, and the size of the Santa Claus display area.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into making this decision,” Stapley said, adding that the nativity scene has been donated back to St. John’s Church in Guelph, “rather than throwing it away or sticking it in a storage room to just sit there for years.”

“They were really very pleased to receive it,” he added. “So it’s still in the community, it’s just not at Stone Road Mall.”

Stapley said Stone Road Mall officials toured the sites of several major competitors recently — in Toronto, Kitchener and Cambridge — and found that it is no longer common to display décor that represents a particular faith.

“We basically try to stay neutral,” he said.

Ann Croft is among the local Christians who are offended by the decision. She said Christmas and its gift-giving tradition is rooted in Christianity, and it troubles her to see retailers profiting on the celebration of Christ’s birth without acknowledging Christ or showing respect to the Christian faith.

“Christmas is a Christian holiday and it’s traditional,” she said, adding that tens of billions of dollars will be spent on Christmas gifts this year in Canada, much of that by the roughly 70-75 per cent of Canadians who identify as Christian.

“Our economy is driven by the money that is spent at Christmas time,” she said. “The malls should acknowledge the origins of Christmas.”

Charitable giving and volunteerism increase significantly during the Christmas period, she added.

“There is still heart in Christmas,” she said. “People smile more, they give more, they think about other people. It is still a time of goodwill and hope for peace on Earth. All of that revolves around our Christian nativity.”

The world is rife with horror and tragedy, she said, and in the midst of it the nativity scene has stood as an easily recognizable symbol of all that is good, pure and right.

“I resent the fact that retailers will exploit our Christmas season for profit, and then, without any conscience at all, dispose of the nativity, which is the reason for Christmas,” she said. “Too many of the old traditions are being tossed aside. And it is hypocritical to exploit this Christian holiday without acknowledging its origins.”

Croft said when a symbol of Christianity is considered an expendable decoration it shows a lack of respect for the faith’s sacred symbols.

“It looks very greedy for retailers to exploit Christmas, and then remove our symbol of Christianity,” she said, adding that a number of petitions have been started to have the mall’s decision reversed.

Stapley said the mall would not be pressured into reconsidering.

Robert C.M. Jewell is another opponent of the decision to eliminate the nativity from the mall. He agrees with Croft that shopping centers make a great deal of money during the Christmas season, and should acknowledge the origins of the celebration.

“I think everyone should be informed about what is happening here, and if it backfires on the mall, tough,” he said. “The nativity should be there as a reminder to everybody, whether they are Christian or not Christian, that if it wasn’t for the deity of Christ we wouldn’t have all the rest of it.”

5 Responses to “Removal of nativity scene sparks outrage in Guelph”

  1. cecilhenry says:

    Be sure you don’t shop at the mall and make it known.

    If its all about money, make sure they don’t get your money. That will get their attention.

    AFrica for Africans, Asia for Asians, White Countries for EVeryone!!! NO.

    This is genocide.

  2. Cheryl says:

    If this continues to be allowed the cultures of what this great country has stood for will be eradicated within the next few years!!! The only way to stop this is to boycott this mall and every other one that continues to do this!! What is wrong with Canadians that won’t stand up and fight for what is right!!! This is what our ancestors did and died for!! Canadians need to geat a backbone and say no more!!! I pray all these men that died for this country did not die in vain!!!!!

  3. FourFooted_Messiah says:

    Well, at least they did mention that such traditions were fading everywhere, and blame it on pure economics. However, in the past, they would have been shooting off their own foot – now, with this multicultural hogwash, we’re not supposed to care that such trappings disappear, in fact, we’re to think it’s a good progressive thing, while business reaps otherwise “lost” profit from not having displays.

    How long has it been since we’ve seen window displays in downtown department stores? What’s that? There hasn’t been such a thing in decades? Yeah. You have to be pretty darned middle aged now to even remember the last of the great displays in most cities that aren’t Toronto or New York (Eaton’s and Macy’s might still put on large window displays, but who knows any more?) The last time I remember seeing a good one was just before Hudson’s in Detroit shut down.

    The sad part is, the loss of Christmas is a slap in the face to most of us with European descent. Remember, the Christian side of Christmas was slapped on top of Roman, and later, northern European winter solstice/end of the year celebrations – the decorated and lighted evergreen trees, and the tradition of gift-giving. The wise men were bringing gifts to Jesus, not giving gifts to each other. But people who live in small, tight-knit communities facing a tough winter would want to make sure everyone had what they needed to survive until spring. Gifts would cover each others’ shortages.

    Ah well, Merry Christmas to all who will accept it, enjoy it while it lasts.

  4. fred says:

    Funny thing, the tradition of Christmas was long established before the religions of the East. Many people of the Middle East, Africa, Asia have died because they choose to honor the Baby celebrated at this time of year. Yet in Canada a Christian based country-touted for it’s tolerance is no longer tolerating the origins of the first settlers.

    It is interesting that the this month is called December which means the 10th month. So it is only logical that we do a lot of giving to others in this month. Perhaps it is time of yearly tithe.

  5. Peter says:

    To rectify this situation you have to fight back ! That’s right, not just complain, but
    fight back ! It is now time for those of European descent to resist.This is our country. We created it. It is ours. Canada’s profile has changed only because successive governments have pandered to minorities and the ethnic swing vote wielded by non whites. However, we are still the overwhelming majority. Let’s not forget that.

    Let us face some basic facts:

    1.) Canada is a nation founded on Judeo Christian principles. It is a majority Christian nation and Islam is incompatible with Canada’s values.

    2.) Whites should never bow down to other groups or deny their Christian heritage. Why should they !!?? They should never call themselves “old stock” Canadians or any other servile term, grovelling to minority groups to curry favour.We are the majority. We need to fight to preserve our nation and regain our culture. Whether we like it or not the battle for the survival of Canada has begun.

    3.) Multiculturalism is a false and destructive policy that must end. It has failed in Europe. It is failing here, and in the United States, and it is destroying our culture.

    4.) Political activism must now take place. It would have been nice if we could have solved the problem of Canadian cultural destruction through reasoned discussion, but that has already failed. We need to become politically active and protest. I agree with Cheryl. Boycott them. Write letters to M.P.s, M.L.A.s. Start a local organization, as I have, to defend Christmas, Western culture and Canada’s real cultural identity. Learn who the other Canadians are who feel as you do. Contact them and fight back as a united group.

    5.) The time has passed when we can afford to be “nice” as we have been in the past. Forget “nice.” There is too much at stake here for us to be “nice.”

    6.) Canada’s real culture is Christian, Conservative and European based. It is Western. The only two languages that should be spoken in public here are English and French. No Chinese signs in public. We are not China. No Arabic. We are not Arabs. Any other foreign languages should be spoken at home only, and, with time, people coming to Canada should leave their original tongues at home and learn to speak English or French.

    7.) Canada is not a social engineering experiment. It is a nation, a proud nation based on a bicultural English /French heritage. This concept needs to be understood, restored and enshrined. Forever !!

    8.) White Canadians must state that they are white, and take due pride in doing so. What could possibly be wrong with it ? I do not see Chinese Canadians or black Canadians denying their identity and referring to themselves by obscure terms. We should not either. Canada, what was once proudly referred to as the “Dominion of Canada,” was founded, created and developed by White Europeans. Any other notion is ridiculous. If it had not been so, we would have had several Chinese or Sikh prime ministers already. We have not.

    9.) The fight as begun. It is every real Canadian’s duty to fight it.

    Fight back against this mall. Boycott them and flood them with letters and emails of complaint. Defend Christmas and openly promote it. It is your heritage. If you care about your country, and its future, you will rise up now and defend it.

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