For the second year in a row, Ohio couple Jasen and Amanda Dixon have made international headlines with the zombie nativity scene in their front yard. Not surprisingly, some people weren’t amused. Zoning officials from Sycamore Township are threatening to fine the Dixons as much as $500 per day if they don’t take down zombie Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Is this actually a free speech issue? Or are the Dixons really just violating the zoning ordinances of their Cincinnati suburb and needlessly provoking their neighbors?
Father of three Jasen Dixon built the display last year with figures borrowed from 13 Rooms of Doom, the haunted house he had managed the previous Halloween. The township wasn’t happy and Dixon had to pay a fine. Expecting a repeat, his wife Amanda set up a series of crowdfunding campaigns to defray costs for this year’s display. Last year’s netted less than a thousand dollars, but with increased publicity this year they’re up to about $3000 so far.
Town officials say that the nativity scene violates local zoning laws, primarily because the display’s overall structure is too large. Mr. Dixon’s request for a special permit was denied.
Dixon says that the township said he couldn’t build a display more than five-feet high or larger than 200 square feet. The zombie nativity is only 65 square feet, but the town denied his permit request anyway on the grounds that the display takes up more than 35 percent of the Dixons’ front yard. The town hadn’t mentioned that detail in the e-mail they sent Mr. Dixon. The family considered taking down the structure but left it up, which could lead to daily fines.
Unfortunately, the Dixons have let the publicity go to their heads, making completely tasteless #ZombieLivesMatter stickers in support of the nativity. It’s too bad because the Dixons seemed like nice enough people, using the publicity to raise money for St Jude, according to Fox 19. (Presumably that means St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and not the first century apostle.)
Meanwhile, one local Christian group passed out pamphlets to nativity passersby, entitled “God frowns upon this manger display.”
(All images via Facebook)