Zombie Nativity Steals Christmas in Ohio Township

Jasen Dixon vows he will not tear down the Nativity scene he and his wife Amanda built in the front yard of their suburban Cincinnati home even though local officials were threatening to fine him $500 a day because they say it violates local zoning laws.

No, this isn’t the typical story of bureaucrats fighting to protect the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. Rather, this is the case of government officials, joined by local Baptists, who are enraged by the sight of this Nativity display because it depicts a manger filled with zombies.

Dixon first inspired the wrath of Sycamore Township, Ohio, officials when he put a zombie version of Jesus surrounded by three Undead Wise Men and zombie-like figures of Mary and Joseph at his “13 Rooms of Doom” local haunted house last October.

“Last year they apparently dropped the charges,” Amanda Dixon wrote on the couple’s Facebook page. “This year we must have made them mad because they are hounding us about it.”

Hounding they are. And so are local Baptist leaders. Jasen wrote on the couple’s Facebook page that Baptists are handing out leaflets warning his neighbors that the zombie-filled Nativity scene will bring down the wrath of God upon them because “God Frowns Upon This Manger Scene.”

“If you read the scriptures closely,” the Baptists wrote in their leaflet, “the God of the Bible is not only a God of love but also a God of wrath. God never expresses even the slightest inkling of humor towards demons or, in this case, zombies.”

However, one of Dixon’s supporters wrote on his Facebook page that as far as she is concerned, Jesus was a zombie.

“That baby supposedly grew up to be the first zombie. He died on good Friday and three days later rose from the dead! If that’s not a god dam {sic} zombie then what is,” Robyn Umuhuri wrote.

“I believe that celebrating the birth of the first noted zombie is your right after all the bible says that’s what happened. Are the Christians saying that the bible is wrong?”

Dixon has tried to stay away from religious arguments over his Nativity scene. He stressed on his Facebook page that he is not an atheist. To him, this is all about free speech.

“I wanted a Nativity scene,” Dixon told WXIX-TV. “I have been talking about this zombie theme for a long time. My father hates it. Some other neighbors drive by and give it a thumb’s up.”

Dixon knows the construction of the Nativity scene at the haunted house was wrong, if only because he didn’t apply for a permit.

This time, he tried to play by the rules. Dixon turned in the paperwork for a permit to build the Nativity scene outside his home. But his application was rejected.

He doesn’t understand why his project failed to meet zoning muster. Dixon said the township ordinance reads that as long as what is being constructed is less than 200 square feet it doesn’t even need to be permitted.

Dixon said his Nativity scene is only 65 square feet. But township officials said the problem is that the construction takes up more than 35 percent of his front yard, so Dixon needed a permit or he would have to pay $500 a day in fines.

He told WXIX-TV this will probably be the last year for the zombie-themed Nativity scene only because it’s so labor intensive. So that eliminates the chance of conflict with township officials next year.

However, there is still the question of township fines that he’ll have to pay this year. Dixon was trying to raise money from his supporters to help cover that expense.

After all, $500 a day can add up. Just for the 12 Days of Christmas that would be $6,000. As of Dec. 8, Dixon had raised slightly more than $1,000.

But on Friday, he’d removed the top part of the display and brought it into code compliance, thus averting fines.