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Trio of Camels Escape From Nativity Production, Roam the Neighborhood in Search of Grass

In lieu of featuring live animals, which PETA calls “exploitative,” the advocacy group suggests that churches should “honor the holy season by urging practitioners to ditch meat, eggs, and dairy; hosting vegan potlucks; replacing leather furniture and prayer books with cow-friendly versions; using candles made without tallow, paraffin, or beeswax; and encouraging everyone to adopt from animal shelters instead of supporting the cruel pet trade.”

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Despite criticism, and even in light of mishaps that suggest better safety protocols could and should be put in place, many churches are unwilling to part with the tradition of having live animals at their nativity productions. 

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“We continue,” said Dana Vess, wife of the pastor at the church where a cow escaped this year. “We don’t let anything stop us from sharing the meaning of Christmas.”