The American Nativity Scene (ANS) is an organization in the U.S. dedicated to having a nativity scene set up in every state legislature in America. The goal of ANS is to help keep Christ at the center of the Christmas season and it believes this is ultimately a fight for religious freedom.
This year ANS announced that another four more states have agreed to displaying Nativity scenes on their legislative grounds bringing the total to 31. The new additions include:
- West Virginia; and
- Possibly more will be added.
Contrary, to what many people believe, it is not unconstitutional for a privately funded nativity scene to be set up on public property for the Christmas season.
The Thomas More Society that provides free legal representation for ANS states that it is a first amendment religious freedom right and fundamentally an issue of Free Speech.
In 2019, ANS reported that an additional eight capitols agreed to allow a Nativity scene bringing the total to 27, with 21 of the Nativity Scenes being provided by the ANS which are paid for by a private donor.
Below is a list of legislatures that allowed the Nativity scene in 2019. The ones with asterisks had scenes provided by ANS.
|California *||Massachusetts*||North Dakota*|
|Hawaii *||Mississippi*||South Carolina*|
The battle over Nativity scenes started in 1987, when Chicago city and council officials tried to ban a Nativity Scene in the city’s Daley Plaza even though other political and cultural rallies were allowed at the plaza.
In a resulting lawsuit, attorney Jennifer Neubauer argued this prohibition was an attack on religious freedom and free speech resulting in the late Chief U.S. District Judge James issuing a permanent injunction forbidding any discrimination against religious expression at the Chicago Plaza.
Since then The Thomas More Society has successfully fought off legal challenges by the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation trying to stop religious displays on government property.
Speaking on behalf of the Society, President Tom Brejcha said:
“If the First Amendment entitles you to get up on your soapbox and plead for a candidate or advocate a political point of view in a public forum, then equally you may get on the soapbox and proclaim the joyous, hopeful message of the Christ Child!”
And Americans are in agreement. A poll conducted by Pew Research in December 2014, revealed that an overwhelming percentage of Americans, 72%, agreed with having privately funded religious displays, such as Nativity scenes, on government property. Only 20% absolutely opposed such displays.
READ: More capital cities invite Christ Child scene AND 72% OK religious scenes on government property: study AND Thomas More Society Defends Private Citizens’ Rights to Freely Express Religious Belief in Public Squares AND Jesus Won’t Socially Distance on His Birthday: Nativity Displays at State Capitols on the Rise AND American Nativity Scene