Nativity Scenes to be Displayed in Florida State Capitol Rotunda
November 27th, 2013 by

Celebrations set for 12/3/13 and 1/6/14 in Tallahassee

Nativity sillhoette with palm trees

 Tallahassee, FL – This Christmas Season, two groups will be displaying nativity scenes in the Florida capitol building in honor of the birth of Christ. On Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 12:00pm, the Florida Nativity Scene Committee will unveil a Christmas display depicting the newborn Christ Child, lying in the manger.  On December 27th, the group “Reclaim Christmas for Christ” will continue the celebration of Christmas with another nativity scene in the capitol, including figures of the three wisemen. On Monday, January 6, 2014 at 12:00pm, “Reclaim Christmas for Christ” will host a commemoration of the Epiphany. Both crèches will be displayed in the rotunda of the Florida State Capitol building, located at 400 S. Monroe Street in Tallahassee, FL.

On December 3rd from noon until 1pm, the Florida Nativity Scene Committee, chaired by Pam Olsen, will host a celebration in honor of the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus Christ.

The December 3rd event will be open to the public. Bishop Joe Brown, Sr. Pastor of University Ministries will lead opening prayer, and Father John Cayor, Rector of Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More will offer a prayer for the troops. Other speakers include Scott Beigle, Founder and President of Faith Radio, and Alejandro Capote, Political and Community Coordinator of Noles4LIFE at FSU. Students from Community Christian School in Tallahassee will sing Christmas carols.

On January 6th from noon until 1pm, “Reclaim Christmas for Christ,” chaired by Sandra Lee Snowden, will host a celebration of the Epiphany. The Epiphany is the day when many Christians recall the Wisemen visiting Jesus and bringing Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Observance of Epiphany is especially valued by people of Hispanic and Latin American heritage. The January 6th event will also be open to the public.

Both nativity scenes represent a constitutionally protected expression of faith—the observance of Christmas—by private citizens in a traditional public forum, namely, the capitol rotunda.  The Christmas displays are privately funded and sponsored, bereft of any government aid or endorsement, and therefore, these displays are clothed and armored with the full protection of the First Amendment of our U.S. Constitution.

The goal of both nativity displays is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Their secondary mission is to proclaim and demonstrate to the public and to the media alike (statewide and nationwide) that such private expressions of religious belief in the public squares of our nation are not merely tolerated but are fully deserving of robust legal protection.

The first Nativity Scene with the figures of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus will be displayed on one side of the capitol rotunda from December 3rd-27th.  The second Nativity Scene, which will include the figures of the Wisemen, will be displayed on the other side of the rotunda from December 27th-January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany.

The nativity initiative in Florida was instigated by a group called “America Nativity Scene,” founded by Jim Finnegan of Barrington, IL, and Naples, FL. In 2012, the city of Arlington Heights, IL denied America Nativity Scene’s application to display a nativity in a public park that exhibited toys and Santa Claus. Thomas More Society attorneys wrote a letter to the city, stating the Constitutional, First Amendment rights of citizens to express their faith in public. The city then granted permission, and America Nativity Scene now prepares to display the nativity in Arlington Heights for the second year.

A generous, anonymous benefactor has provided free nativity scenes to be placed in capitol buildings and public places around the country. Over 30 nativity scenes have already been distributed this year. The group America Nativity Scene, in conjunction with Christians around the country, hopes to set up even more nativity displays next year.