The Living Nativity
When Bart Rathbone sees that the Living Nativity display is hurting his business, he tries to shut it down by bringing up the Constitutional 'separation of church and state'.
When the nativity display on City Hall grounds is vandalized and destroyed, Whit and the gang come up with a wonderful solution. They decide to do a “living nativity.” It will be complete with narration, costumes, Connie as the virgin Mary, and Eugene as a donkey. Everyone in town thinks it is a smashing success, everyone, that is, except Bart and Rodney Rathbone.
The display is near King's Appliance Cave and is taking customers away from the Electric Palace. Bart decides the living nativity must go! He calls the mayor and files a formal protest, upon which Mayor Bill Jenkins has no choice but to act. The police shut down the display.
Whit comes up with a solution, though: Instead of celebrating just Christmas, use the city hall lawn to celebrate all of the cultural events that take place in December as well, such as Hanukkah. It isn’t the perfect solution, but it is one that’s legal and one that satisfies almost everybody.
- This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »
- Why did Bart and Rodney want the living nativity stopped?
- Is it illegal to have a nativity display on city hall property?
- Why or why not?
- Do you think Whit’s solution was a good one?
- The controversial nature of this story launched an hour-long debate among the actors in the studio about the First Amendment and the true meaning of “separation of church and state.” While the discussion was healthy, it sure ate up a lot of studio time!
- This episode was Marshal Younger's writing debut.
- Those responsible for the vandalism of the Nativity Scene have never been identified.
QuotesLucy Cunningham-Shultz: We also have six shepherds and four wise men. So we'll be giving Jesus gold, frankincense, myrrh, and a pen-and-pencil set!
Bart Rathbone: There's something going on around here, and I am going to find out what it is.
Rodney Rathbone: Meaning you're gonna make me find out what it is.
Bart Rathbone: Exact-a-mundo!
Eugene Meltsner: You really should read more history.
Connie Kendall: How'd you like to be history, Eugene?
Lucy Cunningham-Schultz: But what would Mr. Rathbone have against our nativity scene?
Eugene Meltsner: Indeed! It's doubtful he knows what the Constitution is, let alone what it says!