Secular organizations will place a group of displays at the Nebraska capitol that will remain up on Christmas day, effectively muscling out a nativity scene.
Dubbed the "Reason This Season", the displays come courtesy a coalition of groups that include Lincoln Atheists, Omaha Atheists, Omaha Coalition of Reason, and UNO Council for Humanist Thought.
"Reason This Season" will be at the rotunda from Dec. 19-26, taking over all the spaces reserved for displays by any group that applies. As a result, the nativity scene currently on display at the capitol rotunda will be taken down on Dec. 18.
Brian Aden, president of the Board of Directors for Lincoln Atheists, told The Christian Post that they opted to do "Reason This Season" because "we wanted to have a display in the Capitol rotunda to share our message of secular values and viewpoints."
"We wanted to show the people of the state that, not only do atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists exist in this state, but that we have viewpoints that we want to share," said Aden.
"When religious groups are able to use public spaces to spread their message, we decided that we too should use that public space to spread our message."
Aden also told CP that the various displays planned for the "Reason This Season" are meant to serve an educational purpose for the general public.
"Each group will have their own display providing educational resources regarding secular beliefs," continued Aden, who noted that the capitol has a 30-foot tall Christmas tree up for the season.
"Lincoln Atheists will have a display model demonstrating the idea of keeping a wall separating church and state. The display will also include posters with quotes from both political and religious leaders supporting that idea."
Last week, the Omaha branch of the Thomas More Society did place a nativity display at the capitol rotunda, which will remain there until Friday.
Edward Morse, president of the Omaha chapter of the Society, told CP that his organization had successfully gotten the nativity scene displayed on Christmas last year.
"Several atheist-humanist groups took the initiative to reserve all four available spaces in the Capitol during the week of Christmas. The reservation system is first-come, first-served. So, apparently, they got the space ahead of us," said Morse.
"One wonders why a group that does not celebrate Christmas decided that this week was an important one for them to express their views, and why they needed all of the available space to do so."
Regardless, More explained to CP, the Society was "grateful to be able to display the Nativity during this week, as its iconic message will surely resonate with many Nebraskans."
"We need to preserve an environment where dialogue is possible and where differences can be respected and even valued, rather than suppressed in an atmosphere that is constantly looking for cause to be offended," continued Morse.
"It is essential that we maintain the right to display [nativities] … When government starts to suppress these icons, we can count on other aspects of human flourishing will also be suppressed."