Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Associated Press
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Officials in West Springfield have ordered a local pizza parlor owner to take down a statue of the Virgin Mary he put on a city-owned traffic island because it's in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
Antonio Liquori of Liquori's Pizza says he put the statue up last year as part of a city beautification project in which business owners adopted traffic islands to maintain.
Liquori tells WWLP-TV he recently received a letter from the city's deputy director of operations, Vincent DeSantis, saying there have been several complaints about the Madonna statue. The letter read: "Unfortunately, in this day and age, religious artifacts are not to be displayed on city property."
DeSantis said business owners will now only be allowed to decorate traffic islands with flowers.