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Springfield Welcomes Christmas Nativity Scene to State Capitol Rotunda Beginning December 3

Thomas More Society Facilitates Illinois' Sixth Annual Display of Religion in the Public Square

Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, tc@tcpr.net; Onsite contact: Julie Zanoza, 217-314-0211

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Nov. 27, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The State Capitol Rotunda in Springfield welcomes the 6th annual Christmas Nativity scene beginning at noon on Tuesday, December 3, 2013. This privately-funded display of religion in Illinois' public square has been hosted by the Springfield 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 Illinois State Capitol Rotunda, next to the Governor's Holiday Tree, and will depict the newborn Christ child lying in a manger inside a handcrafted wooden stable. The official unveiling of the Nativity tableau will feature a celebration marking Christmas, the Christian holy day honoring the birth of Jesus Christ.

WHAT: Springfield Nativity Scene opening celebration

WHEN: Tuesday, December 3, 2013, at 12 p.m. noon to 1 p.m. (Central)
The exhibit will remain in the rotunda throughout the Christmas season.

WHERE: The Illinois State Capitol Rotunda, South 2nd Street & East Capitol Avenue, Springfield, IL
MAP: goo.gl/maps/vc7ch

WHO: open to the public, sponsored by the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee

CELEBRATION DETAILS:

  • Rev. Bernie Lutchman, President of Business Men in Christ of Springfield will give an invocation.
     
  • Springfield Baptist Church Official Praise Team led by Music Pastor Brian Morgan will perform Christmas carols.
     
  • Chaplain Steve Holden of US Emergency Chaplains Corps will lay a Christmas wreath in honor and special recognition of the service and sacrifice of America's military veterans.
     
    Speakers include…
     
  • • Most Rev. Thomas J. Paprocki, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

    • Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society and Springfield

    Nativity Scene Committee legal counsel

    • Pastor Charlie Carver, South Tower Community Church of Dawson

    • Beth Rogers, Springfield Nativity Scene Committee

    • Pastor Brian Williams, Broken Chains Church
 
The crèche and manger represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in a traditional public forum, namely the Capitol Rotunda, where political rallies are routinely held during sessions of the Illinois General Assembly and other times. 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 by the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee, 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 and its counterpart in the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

The Springfield Nativity Scene Committee's primary goal 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.

Any individuals or groups wishing to sing near the Nativity Scene on weekdays over the noon hour are invited to contact Salli Chernis of the Illinois Secretary of State office, 217-782-8996 for a permit.

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