Thomas More Society Facilitates Tallahassee Display of Religion in the Public Square
Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, firstname.lastname@example.org
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 27, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee will become home to a Christmas Nativity scene beginning at noon on Tuesday, December 3, 2013. This privately-funded display of religion in Florida's public square has been hosted by the Florida Nativity Scene Committee and facilitated by the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based not-for-profit public interest law firm.
The Christmas crèche display will stand in the center of the Capitol Rotunda and will depict the newborn Christ child lying in a manger. The official unveiling of the Nativity tableau will feature a celebration marking Christmas, the Christian holy day honoring the birth of Jesus Christ.
WHAT: Florida Nativity Scene opening celebration
WHEN: Tuesday, December 3, 2013, at 12 p.m. noon to 1 p.m. (Eastern)
The exhibit will remain in the rotunda throughout the Christmas season.
WHERE: The Florida State Capitol Rotunda, 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL
WHO: Open to the public, sponsored by the Florida Nativity Scene Committee, chaired by Pam Olsen
- Bishop Joe Brown, Senior Pastor of University Ministries, will lead opening prayer.
- Father John Cayor, Rector of Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More, will offer a prayer for the troops.
- Students from Community Christian School in Tallahassee will perform Christmas carols.
• Scott Beigle, Founder and President of Faith Radio
• Alejandro Capote, Political and Community Coordinator of Noles4LIFE at Florida State University
After Christmas, on Friday, December 27, the holy family figures of Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus will be joined by figures representing the Biblical Wise Men on the rotunda's opposite side. The secondary display, sponsored by Reclaim Christmas for Christ, founded by Sandra Lee Snowden, will remain at the capitol along with the original nativity through Monday, January 6. The dual exhibits will conclude with a public January 6 commemoration of the Epiphany at noon (Eastern). The Epiphany, widely practiced in Hispanic and Latino cultures as Three Kings Day, marks the visit by the "wise men from the East" to bring the Christ child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The manger scenes represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in a traditional public forum, namely the capitol rotunda. This is classic free speech and citizens' free exercise of their religious faith in the public square, where the sole role of the government is that of a viewpoint-neutral gatekeeper assuring open access for all citizens to have their "say." Government is neither censor nor endorser of such religious speech. This display is privately funded and sponsored, bereft of any government aid or endorsement, and therefore it is clothed and armored with the full protection of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The joint primary goal of the Florida Nativity Scene Committee and Reclaim Christmas for Christ is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A secondary mission is to proclaim and demonstrate to the public and the media that such private expressions of religious belief in the public squares of the nation are not merely tolerated but fully deserving of robust legal protection.
The Tallahassee nativity initiative was inspired by last year's dispute over a Christian holiday display in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. Eventually resolved with intervention by the Thomas More Society, the conflict has prompted America Nativity Scene, founded by Jim Finnegan, to help place privately funded manger scenes in public squares nationwide.
Pam Olsen, chair, Florida Nativity Scene Committee, 850-906-9170
Sandra Lee Snowden, founder, Reclaim Christmas for Christ, 312-953-3108, Sandra@reclaimchristmasforchrist.com
About the Thomas More Society
Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm that exists to restore respect in law for life, marriage, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro-bono professional legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court. www.thomasmoresociety.org