[Ed. – It probably helped that the town’s name means “Bethlehem.”]
A complaint about Belen’s nativity scene led to the city’s biggest Christmas event ever.
Belen is Spanish for Bethlehem. A nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus is a long-standing feature of a Theresa Tabet Park, which is right across the street from City Hall at the intersection of Main Street and Becker Avenue.
A Wisconsin-based atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent the city a letter this summer demanding the removal of the nativity sculpture. …
The mayor, as well as the pastors who coordinate Saturday’s “Follow the Star to Bethlehem” event, said the FFRF’s efforts backfired.
Hundreds of people packed the parking lot outside City Hall for a Bethlehem recreation. There were two performances of a play titled “The Nativity” accompanied by a choir and orchestra from First Baptist Church of Los Lunas. …
The senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Rio Grande Valley, Ray Jaramillo, said about 12 pastors from different area churches came together to organize the 2015 event. He said the great response was the result of the community seeing a threat.
“People are concerned about their freedom of religion and so in response we’re trying to stand up and say we’re not going to go in a corner and hide any more, we’re going to stand up and proclaim what we believe,” Jaramillo said.