Twenty-seven of America’s state capitols will feature nativity scenes this Christmas as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The Thomas More Society, a national not-for-profit law firm, has partnered again with the American Nativity Scene, an organization dedicated to the display of nativity scenes in every state capitol throughout the United States, to keep privately funded manger scenes in the public square for Christmas.
“This is a landmark year as we have crossed the half-way mark,” Thomas Olp, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, said in a joint press statement. “More than 50 percent of our nation’s state capitols will feature Christ – the very reason for Christmas. It is an exciting opportunity to share our Christmas message with the public, as the Constitution allows us to do.”
The Thomas More Society serves as legal counsel for the American Nativity Scene in placing the manger scenes and defending their placement, if necessary, in public places across America.
Ed O’Malley, president of the American Nativity Scene, noted that the number of nativity displays placed in 2019 represented a dramatic increase.
“We welcomed six new state capitol nativity scenes this Christmas, with manger displays debuting in Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina,” he said. “That’s the largest number we’ve added in any year since we launched this initiative in 2012.”
“By leveraging this beloved holiday, we provide an invitation to everyone to seek peace on earth and goodwill to all,” O’Malley added.
He said each state capitol display “celebrates the manger scene uniquely, but most incorporate celebrations with Christmas carols, prayers, and public figures speaking to mark the occasion,” according to the press release.
“Privately funded Christmas displays are legally allowed in a traditional public forum such as a state capitol, county complex, or city hall lawn,” O’Malley observed. “We are committed to our goal of keeping Christ in Christmas across the nation.”
In 2014, the Pew Research Center reported a survey that found 72 percent of Americans agreed that religious symbols on government land during the Christmas season are acceptable. Only 20 percent of those surveyed said they should not be allowed at all.
The two organizations have assisted with nativity displays at the state capitols in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas.
Christmas nativities are also displayed at the state capitols in Arkansas, New Jersey, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and the governor’s mansion in Oklahoma.