The Springfield Nativity Scene Committee (SNSC) recently held its annual opening day ceremony for their privately sponsored and funded display depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. This display marks the 10th straight year that this display has had spot in the center of the State Capitol Rotunda, right next to the Governor’s “holiday tree.”
Tom Brejcha, Esq., founder and chief counsel of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a member of the SNSC and its legal counsel, explained the constitutional rights of private citizens to erect Nativity Scenes as a form of free speech and free exercise of religion in America’s “public square.” Pastor Greg Wooten of Hope Chapel in Lincoln and Father Charles Edwards of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield also spoke during the opening ceremony.
The SNSC is encouraging those who would like to sing Christmas carols in the Illinois State Capitol Rotunda at the site of the Nativity Scene to contact Salli Chernis at the Secretary of State’s office, Dept. of Special Events, at (217) 782-8996 for permission to do so. Choirs and/or groups may perform on weekdays from 12 noon until 1 p.m. The Thomas More Society will provide free legal help, if any is needed, at (312) 782-1680, to any individual or group of private citizens interested in putting up a similar Nativity Scene — privately sponsored and funded — in any “traditional public forum” in their own town, village or hamlet in Illinois or elsewhere, whether it’s for this year (if time permits) or for next year.
IFI thanks Julie Zanoza, Beth Rogers and the entire SNSC for their dedication in this public witness and free exercise of religious speech in this very “public square” at the state capitol.
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