The Nativity Story Turned Down at US Festival

|PIC1|The city of Chicago in the US is not allowing The Nativity Story to be presented at a major public Christmas festival.

Officials have asked organisers of the German Christkindlmarket to reconsider using New Line Cinema, the maker of movie The Nativity Story, as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film might offend non-Christians.

The film hit the headlines at the weekend when it became the first movie to premiere at The Vatican.

New Line Cinema had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event before they were dropped. The decision has left the studio and a prominent Christian group disappointed.

But city officials defended themselves, saying they were only trying to be fair.

"Our guidance was that this very prominently placed advertisement would not only be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its food and unique gifts, but also it would be contrary to acceptable advertising standards suggested to the many festivals holding events on Daley Plaza," Jim Law, executive director of the Mayor's office, said in a statement.

An executive vice president with New Line Cinema, Christina Kounelias, said that as far as she knew, the Chicago festival was the only instance where the studio was turned down.

Kounelias said she finds it hard to believe that non-Christians who attended something called Christkindlmarket would be surprised or offended by the presence of posters, brochures and other advertisements of the movie.

"One would assume that if (people) were to go to Christkindlmarket, they'd know it is about Christmas," she said.

Paul Braoudakis, spokesman for the Barrington, Illinois-based Willow Creek Association, a group of more than 11,000 churches of various denominations, commented: "The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ."

He added: "It's tantamount to celebrating Lincoln's birthday without talking about Abraham Lincoln."