Baby Jesus as a Halloween Treat? No Trick – It’s for Real
This fall, the American Nativity Scene and the national not-for-profit law firm, the Thomas More Society, have teamed up to give away free large nativity scenes for display on public property. “Indeed, these are for Christmastime display,” assures Ed O’Malley, president, of the American Nativity Scene, “but October is the time of year to start finalizing plans for a privately-funded Christmas display as is legally allowed in traditional public forums such as state capitols, county complexes or city hall lawns. We are giving away free nativity scenes. It’s not really a Halloween treat, but it’s definitely not a trick. We are seriously committed to our goal of keeping Christ in Christmas.”
The stated mission of the American Nativity Scene is to place a nativity scene within or directly outside state capitol buildings across America. By Christmas 2016, there were 14 state capitol manger scenes on display. Pro-bono work by the attorneys at the Thomas More Society has ensured that citizens who privately fund religious displays on public property are accorded their right to do so as guaranteed by the 1st and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution. A permanent federal injunction banning discrimination against religious speech assures that the Christmas creches are protected from erroneous applications of the widely misunderstood concept of “separation of church and state.”
While each Christmas season brings controversies, including challenges by atheists, secularists and even Satanists, the American Nativity Scene remains constant in providing a strong and united front in the face of attacks on religious freedom. O’Malley and his colleagues endeavor to provide as many Christmas manger scenes in as many public squares as possible.
The Thomas More Society serves as legal counsel, defending freedom of religious speech and the free exercise of religious faith in the public square. These pro bono attorneys defend the basic rights of nativity scene sponsors and equip citizens with the knowledge and support they need to successfully display nativity scenes in venues that qualify as traditional and designated public forums.
“Atheist groups may mock our message, but we will not be silent as it is critical that Christians proclaim the Gospel message to their fellow citizens,” said Tom Brejcha, the Thomas More Society president and chief counsel. “Anti-Christian, anti-Christmas rhetoric and satanic expositions merely serve to provide sharp emphasis by means of their stark contrast with the positive, uplifting, hopeful and joyous message of Christmas. The Christmas message bears secular as well as religious significance, as it highlights the hope and miracle of birth and new life, the inherent dignity of each and every human being, focusing our attention on the humble and lowly infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger amidst straw and animals, honored by shepherds and kings alike, and heralded by choirs of angels. That message of the essential equality of all human beings, no matter how rich or poor, humble or high-stationed, resonates deeply with the values that Americans cherish.”
Together with a very generous anonymous donor, the American Nativity Scene and the Thomas More Society have co-sponsored, assisted with or promoted nativity displays at state capitols in California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington, and at the Governor’s mansion in Oklahoma.
Individuals or groups willing to sponsor a Christmas manger scene at a state capitol or other highly visible and heavily traveled location on public property can apply to receive free large nativity figurines of the holy family, including Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus, along with the Angel to announce the birth of Christ. Applicants must agree to provide a manger setting, acquire proper permits and hold a scheduled celebration at the display location. Details are available at americannativityscene.com.