A shopping centre in Scotland has been criticised after staff banned a Christmas nativity scene from being erected this year.
Bosses at the mall in Stirling have said they took the decision because they wanted the centre to remain ‘religiously and politically neutral’.
This hasn’t gone down well with some locals, who are outraged by the decision.
Stephen Kerr, the Member of Parliament for Stirling wrote on Twitter: “A disappointing decision by the Thistles Centre. #nativity.”
Another person said it was ‘disgraceful’, while a third said they were more offended by another piece of decor at the shopping centre.
They wrote: “Personally I would rather see a Nativity scene than a giant Chess board outside M&S. It would be good to know who made this decision and what their background is.”
However, a spokesman for the shopping centre claimed the application was refused because they didn’t have the space and because it is not the right setting for a religious message.
They said: “Thistles shopping centre prides itself on being religiously and politically neutral in its behaviour within the local community and with this in mind we do not feel it would be right to agree to host this type of promotion within a shopping centre.
The religious group has been told the decision will not be changed. Credit: Creative Commons
“Our customers come to enjoy a leisure activity without being subjected to individual organisation’s beliefs.”
The Catholic Legion of St Mary’s Association originally asked for the nativity. They have said bosses at Thistles are just interested in making money out of the religious holiday.
A spokesperson for the group said: “Despite heavily promoting Christmas for commercial gain, they [Thistles bosses] ‘pride themselves on religious neutrality’ and so won’t allow a nativity to be present.
“While we understand that no one wants religious or political evangelists in a shopping centre, the request was simply to have a nativity, which would be manned and anyone approaching could ask about it.”
According to reports, despite calls for them to change their mind, the centre’s bosses have said the decision is final.
Thistles added: “We will not be willing to reconsider the application any further and hope that this final decision is accepted.”
A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: “We find it very disappointing that the true meaning of Christmas has been completely lost here. When a shopping centre can focus purely on commercialism to the exclusion of the reason for the celebration of Christmas it is a sad day for all of us.”
Featured Image Credit: Creative Commons/PA
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