As families start setting up traditional manger displays, one man in Sycamore, Ohio, faces backlash from irked onlookers because of his zombie Nativity scene. Instead of setting up a manger design that's prevalent across the globe, John "Jasen" Dixon brought gore and horror to his version.
Dixon's collection of zombie Nativity characters includes Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, an angel, and baby Jesus all with ghoulish faces. Twinkling lights complemented the display. The zombie Nativity scene was first constructed in 2014 as part of the creator's haunted house business called the 13 Rooms of Doom in nearby Rising Sun, Indiana.
He then opted to recreate the display on his front lawn, which immediately earned the ire of religious groups. Apart from direct complaints, Dixon likewise received a pamphlet with the headline "GOD FROWNS UPON THIS MANGER SCENE."
Through an email addressed to the Huffington Post, Dixon stated that they're not atheists.
"My wife Amanda is a hardcore Catholic and we do have a son in Catholic school. We are not atheist, agnostic or devil worshippers," the email read.
Apart from displeased locals, Dixon received a letter that stated he must pay $500 a day if his zombie nativity scene continued to defy the county's zoning code.
"I think it's the theme. It just rubs people the wrong way and it puts the spotlight on me. That's why they're coming down so hard on me," he told WKRC.
While Dixon believes that the reason is his manger's theme, Sycamore Township Zoning Administrator Greg Bickford insists that the violation has nothing to do with the questionable portrayal of Jesus.
Bickford told CNN that the 15-foot roof of Dixon's manger exceeds the designated height limit for backyard displays, which is five feet.
"We couldn't care less about the zombies. What we care about is the zoning code," he said.
Nonetheless, Dixon removed the display's roof over the weekend, and Bickford said that the creator's already compliant.
To cover legal fees that might arise, Dixon previously set up an online fundraiser with a goal of $5,000. In 8 days, 124 donors have already raised $2,332. His crowdfunding webpage was originally used to collect funds for charity, but Dixon had to alter it to ask for financial support for possible fines.
Arizona-based company NerdTalk Toys likewise released a concept reminiscent of Dixon's zombie Nativity scene. The company aims to amass $45,000 worth of pledges to start manufacturing the zombie toy kits consisting of five vinyl figurines. In the FAQ section of the pledge collection page, the owners insist that they did not come up with the concept to offend.
"We certainly did not set out to create Zombie Nativity to offend the masses. We wanted to make something funny/weird/interesting/cute that appealed to our own sense of humor."
NerdTalk Toys CEO Ashley Gojic and creative director Justin Contre claim that they merely wanted to put a new spin on the holiday season and that they were inspired by the popularity of zombies.
"Zombies are very central to today's culture, and it's a shame they only get 1 holiday. Why not 3: Halloween, Christmas AND #ZombieJesusDay (Easter)," read the page description.
People can donate as little as $1 although it takes $25 to receive a full toy set. Other rewards in store for project supporters include "a #ZombieJesusDay (Easter) card, a Zombie Mary prayer candle, and news about upcoming additions to the starter pack, including the Three Wise Men."
[Photo via NerdTalk Toys]