Today Freedom of Religion is all over the news, certainly the most important issue facing the Christian community. The often used statement, "Use it, or Lose it" applies here for certain. No where do these attacks come up more often than when we approach Christmas. In answer to this war on religious freedom the American Nativity Scene has been founded. The ANS purpose; to provide the strongest answer possible to these attacks on religious freedom and Christmas; that being a beautiful Nativity Scene in as many public squares as possible.
Legal precedence has been established for the right to display a privately owned and sponsored Nativity Scene on public property. In 1987 Grutzmacher vs The Chicago Building Commission was decided by Federal Court Judge James Parsons when he issued a decision accompanied by a permanent Federal injunction banning discrimination against religious speech under the first and fourteenth amendments of our U.S. Constitution. Parsons then ordered the Nativity Scene to be once again available to the public. As a result of the precedence of the 1987 decision, we have seen a beautiful Nativity Scene go up in downtown Chicago at Daley Plaza. In addition, for the past five years, a very special Nativity Scene has gone up in a prominent spot in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois, using the Grutzmacher decision for legal rights of same.
Rhode island joined the party in 2012 with their own Nativity Scene at their state capitol. Mississippi also has a Nativity Scene which makes it the third capitol to feature the real meaning as to why we celebrate Christmas. All of these are the result of a small but determined group of people who wanted to honor the Holy Family enough to get involved, and get the job done.
The American Nativity Scene wants to make this a reality in all 50 states. All that is necessary to make it happen is a small group of people in each state, who like the founders of our country in 1775, speak up for their right to religious freedom.
The great news is that a very generous benefactor has assured us that the cost of the Nativity Scene will be covered as long as we need to make this happen. The Baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the Angel who marked the location of the greatest occurrence in the history of this world, are all provided. The figures are exquisite. All that your committee will need to provide is a handy man or carpenter who can make the creche to complete the scene. A private Nativity scene committee (as small as 3-5 people) needs to be formed to obtain the permit, to store and assemble the scene, and to plan the special event when the scene goes up. The utter joy you will witness when the welcoming event occurs at the state capitol, or a very special public location, will be something you will cherish. It can be done, it just needs YOU and the friends that share your passion.
Thomas Brecha is the founder of the Thomas More Society, a law firm located in Chicago. You may have seen Tom on the Bill O'Reilly show and several other media giants as he has successfully spoke for the right to include Nativity Scenes to other secular scene of Christmas across the country. Tom can help you with legal advice in approaching the state or municipality for the Nativity Scene permit that is guaranteed you under the U.S. Constitution, by the state Government that works for you.
Below is an article on the Thomas More Society fight for religious freedom
Thomas More Society Defends Private Citizens’ Rights to Freely Express Religious Belief in Public Squares (December 8, 2015 – Chicago, IL) – This Christmas Season, Thomas More Society continues to fight for freedom of religious speech and the free exercise of religious faith in the public square. As legal counsel for the American Nativity Scene Committee (ANSC) and local private groups around the country, the Society defends these rights and also equips Americans to display nativity scenes in their State Capitols and in other public venues that qualify as traditional and designated public forums. This year, along with ANSC, Thomas More Society is co-sponsoring nativity displays – which have been donated by an anonymous benefactor – in the State Capitols of Illinois, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Texas, and at the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma. Efforts continue to secure permits for such displays elsewhere around the nation. The nativity displays represent classic free speech and free exercise of religious faith by private citizens in the public square. These displays, however, have not gone up without controversy. “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, 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 and dignity of all human beings, no matter how rich or poor, humble or high-stationed, resonates deeply with the values that Americans cherish.” Last Christmas, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and ACLU tried to force Franklin County in Indiana to dismantle the privately funded and privately sponsored Nativity Scene that has been displayed on its courthouse lawn (in addition to other private displays set up there from time to time throughout the year) every Christmas for over fifty years. Thomas More Society defeated FFRF and ACLU in federal court in Indianapolis, where the court rebuffed the atheist groups’ legally baseless claim that this private display was an “establishment of religion by the government.” On the contrary, the court ruled that the Christian citizens had a right to display a Nativity Scene on their local Courthouse lawn, which qualified as a “designated public forum.” This controversy is not new. Almost thirty years ago, a lawsuit had to be filed to protect the Nativity Scene (and to prevent physical destruction of the statues) on Daley Plaza in Chicago, when city and county officials tried to suppress the right of Christians to express their religious faith in that traditional public forum, where political rallies ethnic celebrations and other cultural events have been regularly staged. A private attorney, Jennifer Neubauer, had to file suit and persuade the late Chief U.S. District Judge James B. Parsons to enter a permanent injunction, enjoining the authorities from this “discrimination” against religious expression on Daley Plaza. “The nativity displays represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in traditional or designated public forums, where the sole role of the government is that of a viewpoint-neutral gatekeeper assuring open access for all citizens to have their ‘say,’” added Brejcha. “If the First Amendment entitles you to get up on your soapbox and plead for a candidate or advocate a political point of view in a public forum, then equally you may get on the soapbox and proclaim the joyous, hopeful message of the Christ Child!” About the Thomas More Society: Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. www.thomasmoresociety.org About the American Nativity Scene Committee: The American Nativity Scene Committee is dedicated to the display of Nativity Scenes in every State Capitol throughout the United States during the Christmas season. The Committee ships nativity scenes (donated by a very generous anonymous benefactor) to private citizens all over the U.S. who wish to bear witness to the true meaning of Christmas by securing permits (with the Society’s legal help, if needed) to set up a nativity scene in their local public square.
People braving the rain on the welcoming of the Nativity scene in Arlington Heights Illinois
Jim Finnegan addresses the crowd at the Nativity Scene Blessing. Christmas carols were sung while the children in the crowd placed the baby Jesus in the manger.