(KFOR NEWS December 15, 2020) Starting with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. today (December 15) and remaining through December 28, a traditional Christian crèche will be on display in the first-floor rotunda, at 1445 K Street, in Lincoln. The Thomas More Society, a national not-for-profit law firm, has teamed up again with the American Nativity Scene to help keep privately funded manger scenes in the public square for Christmas.
“We are excited to share our Christmas message with the public, as the Constitution allows us to do,” said Martin Cannon, Thomas More Society Senior Counsel, about the Capitol nativity scene. “More than just an opportunity to share our faith, it is a chance to invite everyone to seek peace on Earth and goodwill to all – something we all need at the end of a difficult year,” he added.
The Thomas More Society serves as legal counsel for nativity displays across America and collaborates with the American Nativity Scene. Defending freedom of religious speech and the free exercise of religious faith in the public square, these pro bono attorneys assist nativity scene sponsors. They equip citizens with the knowledge and support they need to successfully display crèches in venues that qualify as traditional and designated public forums.
“Privately funded Christmas displays are legally allowed in traditional public forums such as state capitols, county complexes, or city hall lawns,” explained Ed O’Malley, president of the American Nativity Scene. “We are committed to our goal of keeping Christ in Christmas across the nation.”
The mission of the American Nativity Scene is to place a nativity display within or directly outside state capitol buildings across America. This Christmas season, there are 32 manger displays scheduled to be erected at state capitols, up from 27 in 2019. 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 ensures that the Christmas crèches are protected from erroneous applications of the widely misunderstood concept of “separation of church and state.”
Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society President and Chief Counsel, echoes the importance of displaying the Nativity Scenes, especially in a year such as 2020. “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,” stated Brejcha.
The following state capitols featured a Nativity Scene in 2019: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Additionally, Christmas 2020, will feature manger displays in Idaho, Oklahoma, Nevada, and West Virginia, with newly participating states still being added.
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