The Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action are publicly sharing the message of Christmas this season by sponsoring a live nativity scene in front of the United States Supreme Court.
Part of “The Nativity Project,” a nationwide campaign that seeks to bring the focus of Christmas back to Jesus Christ, the display not only hopes to proclaim the powerful message of the Gospel but also celebrate religious freedom, countering the hostility toward public expressions of faith.
“Sadly, we are seeing an erosion and hostility toward public expressions of faith in the public square. This is especially true during the Christmas season,” said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, in a statement.
“'The Nativity Project' is a reminder that our Constitution provides freedom 'of' religion not freedom 'from' religion. By encouraging people of good will to publicly display Nativity Scenes all across America, we are not only supporting religious liberty and First Amendment freedoms but we are loudly proclaiming the powerful message of Christmas.”
Mahoney additionally told The Christian Post that his group hopes to proclaim a message of hope and peace as well. “Peace on earth. Good will toward man.” That was the message that needed to be heard now, more than ever he believed.
“The Nativity Project” was first organized by a number of Christians in Boise, Idaho, who were troubled by the fact that manger scenes were no longer displayed in front of the City Hall and State Capitol.
“Sadly this has been occurring with frequency around the country,” Mahoney lamented. “Cities and states faced with potential legal action and negative court decisions regarding the public display of nativity Scenes have decided to refrain from setting them.”
Praying and searching for creative ways to publicly display nativity scenes, faith organizations discovered a unique and exciting approach to address the problem.
Not using any public funds, which courts have cited as a violation of the Establishment Clause when setting up nativity displays, The Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action applied for a permit to set up nativity scenes in front of public areas like the Supreme Court and Capitol Building.
Individual citizens and groups were allowed to apply for permits to set up nativity scenes in places like City Halls, State Capitol Buildings, courts, town squares and other public areas.
“No public funds are being used and the courts have allowed these displays to move forward,” the ordained minister from Virginia explained.
Volunteers from both faith organizations will be acting the parts in the live nativity skit, which will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 10:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C. and at the Fox News studios in New York City on Thursday.
“The traditional crèche, portraying Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child, along with angels, shepherds, Wise Men and animals, remind us of what Christmas is all about,” the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action, added in the statement.
"The fact that we have been granted a permit to hold this 'Live Nativity Scene' in front of the Supreme Court ensures the right for every American to set up these public displays in communities all across America. We like to refer to this effort as keeping Christ Mass in the nation's Capital and throughout the nation."
As Christians continue to witness direct attacks on public expressions of faith, leaders hope that the live upcoming skit would be one method to ensure the protection of basic free speech rights.
“We are seeing a very interesting ‘divide’ developing toward the public expressions of faith,” Mahoney stated to CP. “On one hand, the general public in poll after poll seems very comfortable and supportive of public faith expressions. Things like: the public display of the 10 Commandments, prayers at sporting events, the public display of crosses in public parks, keeping ‘One Nation Under God’ in our Pledge, etc.”
“However, the courts and groups like the ACLU and Americans United are mounting an all out assault on public expressions of faith. So in America, you have this very fascinating situation. The general public is very warm toward public expressions of faith, while the courts and elite groups and very uncomfortable with it,” the former director for the Center for Christian Activism noted.
“Even though this ‘divide’ is growing greater, the good news is the vast majority of the public stands with us,” he concluded.
The “Live Nativity Scene” expects to be on the public sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court by 11 a.m. on Wednesday.