Reading Bible, Praying at Capitol Christmas Tree Could Lead to Arrest

Prominent Christian activist the Rev. Patrick Mahoney has said that he plans to read the Nativity story from the Bible on Thursday in front of The Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., despite threat of being arrested.

Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, plans to lay out a small Nativity display and pray for political readers at noon Thursday, and will sing Christmas Carols along as well as pray for peace, justice and religious freedom. All of which can land him in jail, he learned after contacting Capitol police.

The Rev. Mahoney received an email from his attorney, Jim Henderson of the Senior Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, who said that he called the Office of General Counsel for the Capitol Police and was told his use of the Bible and the Nativity scene would turn his activity into a “prohibited demonstration.” The email continues: “If you failed to discontinue that activity on police direction you would be risking ticketing or arrest."

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The Capitol Christmas Tree, which is found on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building, has no ornaments of Jesus or any scenes from the Nativity.

Mahoney explained his reasons for the demonstration in a press release, saying, "I want to make to clear that every American should have the right to express their faith in the public square free from government intimidation or harassment. If that means spending time in jail for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, then I consider that a small price to pay."

The minister and his organization had previously teamed up with Faith and Action to organize “The Nativity Project,” a nationwide campaign that seeks to bring the focus of Christmas back to Jesus Christ. They scheduled a live Nativity scene in front of the United States Supreme Court for Nov. 30. The Rev. Mahoney said the message was to proclaim “Peace on earth. Good will toward man,” and that it was needed now more than ever.

“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,” he expressed in the statement.

The Rev. Mahoney could not be reached at the time of press for further comments.

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