2014 | Week of December 1 – #1074
This past Monday, our staff made our annual early December trek to the state capitol first floor rotunda, laden with bins and easels, tables and signs and, yes, our state-approved permits. Unlike some other trips we make to the state capitol from time to time, we make this one very happily because we know we are bringing the truth directly to thousands of people who will visit our beautiful capitol building over the next month.
The bins we hauled were filled with figures for a table-top nativity display. Our signs—they boldly and brightly declare that while it may sound like a cliché, it’s not—Jesus really is the reason for the season.
While we were setting the display up this year, there was a high school choir in the rotunda singing Christmas songs—including traditional carols—and their voices were echoing throughout the building. The official State Christmas tree was standing tall in the middle of the rotunda—not yet decorated but up and being prepared for lights and hand-made ornaments from school children all across the state. We set about putting up the display, being careful to place the figures securely and properly, making sure that Baby Jesus, the Christ Child, was the center of attention.
I had already surveyed what displays were put up ahead of ours. I noticed next to us on one side that Freedom From Religion Foundation had already been there setting up their blasphemous and profoundly sad version of a nativity. I looked around for their equally sad Winter Solstice sign and didn’t see it but anticipate it will be there soon.
Other, non-Christmas displays were there as well, as the rotunda has become, especially recently, a popular place to display and proclaim one’s opinion on all sorts of issues. I was reminded of the blessing of living in America where we still have the opportunity to tell people publicly what we believe on just about any issue.
As we finished our work and stepped back to view it, my mind raced back to the late 1990s. I had just started working for Wisconsin Family Council in October of that year. In early December I learned about “the battle of the signs.” It seems around 1995 or so Freedom From Religion received permission to put up a big banner declaring that religion is but a myth, there is no God and December is all about the Winter Solstice. Our organization sought permission to put up a banner with the truth about Christmas to counter that lie. At that point, the administration decided no banners would be put up, but signs meeting certain qualifications could be displayed with permission.
It’s been almost 20 years that we’ve been displaying a Merry Christmas sign in the state capitol—and just a couple of years ago our sister organization Wisconsin Family Action added a beautiful nativity set. It was that nativity set that prompted Freedom From Religion Foundation to put up its totally evolutionary and humanistic display. It would be funny if it weren’t filled with such lies. The real tragedy is that so many people will visit our state capitol over the next 30 days or so to see the beautiful Christmas trees in the rotunda and in the Governor’s Conference Room and to listen to choirs sing over the noon hour. And they’ll see all of the displays as well and be exposed to both the truth and the lie about this season of the year.
We put our sign and nativity up for a couple of reasons—the most important of which is countering those lies—and the second is to exercise our religious freedom. The First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits government from interfering with religion and guarantees citizens the right to exercise their religion, including celebrating Christmas, both in the privacy of our homes and in the public square.
But more importantly we want to be sure those who visit our state capitol this season know that it’s not about the Winter Solstice; it’s about the God Who created the Winter Solstice. It’s not about empty evolution and humanism; it’s about the Creator God Who provided a Savior for desperately needy humans. We believe that’s a message worth sharing.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”