Pitman holiday flap resumes

Posted: November 25, 2012

The flap over the public display of a religious Christmas banner continues in Pitman.

Maybe.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, dedicated to protecting the separation of church and state, was not aware that the banner went back up Saturday morning, but "it remains problematic," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, an officer of the foundation in Madison, Wis.

"We have people there in Pitman who want to do something about it," Gaylor said, adding that a foundation lawyer had "been in touch with them all year."

Nonetheless, the Knights of Columbus hung the "Keep Christ in Christmas" banner early Saturday morning over the picturesque borough's main street, just as the Catholic fraternal organization does every year.

The banner is part of the Gloucester County town's annual Christmas festivities, including a parade that took place at 5 p.m. Saturday.

"We had no problem at all" putting the banner up, Mark Pawlowski, grand knight of Knights Council 6247, said shortly before the parade began. "I don't know what happened to the complaint.

He added that the group did not need a permit for the banner because it stays up less than 90 days.

Last year, the banner sparked a Christmas controversy when the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked then-Mayor Michael Batten to remove it.

The banner has been a staple in Pitman, which was founded more than a century ago as a Methodist summer retreat.


Contact Marie McCullough at 215-854-2720 or mmccullough@phillynews.com.

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