Nativity scene returns to Warren after federal lawsuit

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) - For the first time since 2008, a family's nativity scene is returning to Warren now that they've won a federal lawsuit.

John Satawa and his family have set up the display every year since 1945 at the corner of Mound and Chicago. The tradition started with his father.

In 2008, a complaint was filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation claiming the display violated the separation of church and state. The county then forced Satawa to remove the display.

"It hurt that they listened to a select few," Satawa said. "It hurt for my dad. It hurt for the Christian community. It hurt for everyone."

Satawa vowed to fight the county and filed a lawsuit. He hired Robert Muise from the American Freedom Law Center to represent him in court.

In August 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 in favor of Satawa.

"When I got a call from Mr. Muise saying we won, I was driving and I almost had to pull off the road," Satawa said as he wiped back tears. "I'm still emotional. It's great, just great."

Saturday morning, dozens of his supporters cheered on Satawa and sung Christmas carols as Satawa set up his nativity scene once again.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation set up a banner about 50 feet away from Satawa's display on Friday.

7 Action News reached out to the organization for comment Saturday, but did not hear back.

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