Fire department takes down nativity display

CHARLESTON, S.C. --- The Charleston fire department has removed a nativity display from a station after getting a complaint that it was an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion.

The manger scene was removed from Fire Station 12 after city officials received a letter from the group Freedom from Religion Foundation, which works for the separation of church and state.

Putting the creche on city property "unmistakably sends the message that the city of Charleston endorses the religious beliefs embodied in the display," staff attorney Rebecca Kratz wrote in the letter, dated Dec. 17, to Mayor Joe Riley and Fire Chief Thomas Carr.

According to the letter, someone complained to the Madison, Wis.-based group.

The nativity scene was removed Thursday in response, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Monday.

The city's legal department advised officials to remove the display, citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings on promoting one religion over another, said fire department spokesman Mark Ruppel.