Dear Friend of the Holy Family,
Our 2017 celebration of the Birth of Christ has ended and we here at the American Nativity Scene wanted to thank each of you for being a part of this effort of placing Nativity Scenes in the public square during the Christmas Season. Our message remains simple but powerful– Keeping Christ at the center of the Christmas Season.
During the 2017 Christmas Season we were successful in placing Nativity Scenes in numerous town centers, city halls, courthouses, parks and most importantly 2 more state capitols in our United States. Through the help of Americas leading pro-bono law firm - the Thomas More Society, the blessing of our special benefactor/angel and many dedicated individuals from throughout the country we were able to ship more than 50 Nativity sets this past Christmas season. Individuals from Santa Cruz California to as far as Niagara Falls New York and many states in between were able to put up Nativity Sets in their local public square. Included in this list were the two state capitols of Annapolis Maryland and Augusta Maine. The efforts of Jack Ames in Maryland and Pat Dunne in Maine show what can happen when individuals stand up on the critical issue of freedom of religious speech. In addition to the 14 other state capitols that display a Nativity Scene we are now at 16 states (34 to go). The best news about this is that we have 4 individuals who have already stepped forward and agreed to work on placing the Nativity in their respective state capitol for Christmas 2018. We hope to grow this number even further by this time next year.
Over the past 5 years the American Nativity Scene has shipped over 300 Nativity Scenes to 36 different states. We even went international this year by sending our first Nativity outside our border to Ontario Canada. We had some other international requests from as far away as a school in India and a housing village in the Philippines. We were unable to fulfill either of those requests due to some additional costs but we are looking at ways to make that happen in 2018.
If you were one of the recipients of a beautiful Nativity set we certainly hope you enjoyed this with your family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. The pictures of the completed Nativity sets with wood mangers and dedication ceremonies we received were extremely heartwarming and inspiring.
In closing we want to thank each of you again for being a part of this effort to honor the Birth of Christ, his loving message of hope and love and remind others of the real reason for the Christmas Season. Through your prayers and the moral support of many we hope to provide you with even more good news in Christmas 2018.
Jim Finnegan and Ed O’Malley
Founder and President
All others who have considered getting involved should take confidence
in a recent poll by The Washington Times of 1508 individuals held
December third to the fifth. It showed a overwhelming majority of 72% of the
citizens saying they agreed that religious scenes displayed on PUBLIC property, by PRIVATE individuals should be allowed as our constitution allows.
We must all realize that the private funding of our Nativity Scenes
represents our government merely being the gate keeper up holding free speech. Your efforts in this area are "fully clothed and armored" with the full
protection of the first amendment of the United States Constitution, the Supreme law of our land. State Capitols and parks are not religious buildings or settings: they are open to all citizens of faith, or of no faith. This factoid
being one of the key reasons our great country was founded.
Look it up! No where in the United States Constitution will you find
the words/concepts Separation of Church and State. Quite the contrary- the
Supreme Court has consistently ruled the oft used "Establishment Clause" that
forbids the establishment of one state religion for all, does not require a
state entity to exclude private religious speech from public forums. That is a
consistency that there is no violation for our Government to enact a neutral
policy that happens to benefit religion.
We need to realize this policy cuts both ways on an issue such as the Nativity Scene. We have seen those who want to remove any signs of the Christ child from Christmas and their attempt to end all efforts to celebrate this Holy Day in the public square. An example of this are the signs that proclaim the honoring of satan.
Is it worth all the effort to put up these displays in more venues, esp. in State Capitols? The ANS, the Thomas More Society, our anonymous benfactor and, most importantly, many Americans emphatically believe the answer is YES. The public debate that the Nativity Scene displays trigger is a very healthy debate and one whose resolution is very important in terms of our re-shaping the contours of our more recently mis-shapen American culture. Far too many individuals react in a negative way to witnessing ANY public displays of religious symbols and beliefs. In many cases these are the same folks who insist that religious beliefs -- and worse, the values that arise out of those beliefs -- have no legitimate role to play in our public debates over the shape and content of our public policies. In that view, religious beliefs are mere "superstitions" which ought to be shunned by intelligent, rational citizens, let alone by policymakers. This yields a meager harvest of normative, values-sensitive "inputs" in our competitive marketplace of ideas, leaving our legislators and other politicians to grope about in what the late Rev. John Neuhaus called our "naked public square," shorn and denuded of all religious values.
What values, exactly, do these Nativity Scenes convey and proclaim? Some will say, simply, that they are both a reminder and an endorsement of the Christian religion. But while this purely religious significance is undeniably true, it bears repeating that the manger scene and the figures of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus -- together with the angel, the poor shepherds and their animals and, later, the three Kings bearing their magnificent gifts -- convey a host of other meanings, which have a secular significance and as well as a religious one. These manger scenes are celebrations of birth, new life, and renewal and hope bound up with succeeding generations. As well, they celebrate the beauty of the family, of mother, father and child. That the shepherds attended the event with their animals bespeaks the natural bonds that unite all men and women, within the larger human community, and together with all other living beings, our fellow creatures. Finally, the heralding angel adds the Divine, transcendent worth and dignity to this elemental human drama, and the arrival of the gift-bearing Kings signifies that rich and poor alike share equally in the joy that greets this newborn babe.
Finally, the American Nativity Scene effort is ALL ABOUT THE HONORING OF THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS- THE BIRTH OF CHRIST. It never is, nor can be, about countering another groups message, or picking a fight as others seem to want to do. Hopefully, let them win or lose on the field of respectful dialogue. Let each message stand on its own. The American Nativity Scene is all about Christ, and the love in the message of Christmas.
Below are some pictures of Nativity Scenes that have been placed in this great country of ours.
Annapolis Maryland State Capitol
Iowa State Capitol Building, Des Moines
Iowa State Capitol Building, Des Moines
Concord New Hampshire - This Nativity is owned and maintained by the Knights of Columbus and is not the set the American Nativity Scene provides.