Zombie-Themed Nativity Scene is as Scary as it Sounds, But is it Illegal?
Every year around the holidays it’s not totally unheard of to discover that some nativity scene has been vandalized by teenagers, or much worse, that a baby was left deserted in a manger. While upsetting as both of those scenarios are for a number of reasons including violation of public property and moral decency (and the fact that babies should never be left in random mangers) there’s a new reason a nativity scene is garnering some weird press–zombies!
An Ohio couple is currently at war with their community, after refusing to take down a hand-built nativity scene from their front yard modeled after the undead. For the second year in a row, Jasen and Amanda Dixon assembled the biblical scene to feature life-size zombie replicas of Mary, Joseph, and the three wise men, as well as a razor-toothed baby in a manger.
— WPEC CBS12 News (@CBS12) December 4, 2015
Mr. Dixon first created the replica as a marketing ploy to promote “13 Rooms of Doom,” the nearby haunted house he runs. He told a television crew that he resurrected the theme this year because it was “such a hit.” However, some religious members of his community took offense calling the scene “blasphemous.” According to the nativity’s Facebook, two Baptists even dropped off a pamphlet in the baby’s manger that read “GOD FROWNS UPON THIS MANGER SCENE.”
The town’s zoning officials also demanded the structure be taken down, claiming it violates local zoning laws. According to a local news site, the couple received warnings last year for two zoning violations–one for the size of the accessory structure in which the zombie nativity figures were displayed and the second for debris in front of the garage. As a result they removed the structure and the debris before any citations could be filed.
This year they opted to downsize the design of the nativity and apply in November for what they thought were the proper permits, yet their request was denied. Officials told them that zoning code doesn’t allow “accessory features” in front yards, but instead of removing the structure again, they opted to leave it up and take their chances.
As of Friday they’ve already received their first citation, which carries a $500 fine. The citations could continue to cost them an upwards of $500 for each day they are in noncompliance.
But is the structure even illegal in the first place? There seems to be some debate over whether or not there is an actual ordinance banning “accessory features” from front yards, or if the house is being targeted due to the structure’s subject matter.
The Dixons have remained adamant that the piece has nothing to do with religion, and is just “artwork.” They’ve even gone as far as adding the disclaimer “we are not atheist” to the about section of their website. Despite this, controversy remains around the little zombie Jesus. Even if they continue to hold out, it may just be a matter of time before they’re forced to lay their project to rest.