“Taking a stand,” organizers open Capitol nativity sceneby John Kennedy | December 3rd, 2013
Christmas songs and prayers joined speeches warning that religion was under attack in the U.S., as organizers dedicated a nativity scene Tuesday near the entrance to the Florida Capitol.
Across the Capitol Rotunda, a 10-foot-tall menorah also was on display, as it has been for several years during Hanukkah. But the nativity scene — just a few dozen yards from Gov. Rick Scott’s office — was a first in the building.
“Our country is a nation of freedom of religion, not freedom from it,” said Palm Olsen, chair of the Florida Nativity Scene Committee.
She added, “We are taking a stand for Christ in Christmas, a stand for truth and religious freedom. And what better place to do this than the heart of our state government.”
The nativity scene, which depicts the birth of Christ, is expected to remain up through Dec. 27. It’s expected to be followed by another display after Christmas honoring Three Kings Day, Jan. 6.
Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU of Florida, said opening the Capitol to religious-themed displays is a risky precedent for state officials.
“They have now said this space can be used for all forms of expression, religious and non-religious,” Simon said. “Otherwise, they’re going to be sued for being discriminatory.”