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Christian Group to Forgo Nativity Scene at Fla. Capitol

Image: Christian Group to Forgo Nativity Scene at Fla. Capitol
A Christmas nativity scene on display at the Florida Capitol rotunda in 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

By    |   Monday, 07 Dec 2015 05:51 PM

A Florida Christian group that has displayed a nativity scene in the rotunda of the state Capitol for the past two years has decided against doing so this Christmas season.

The group cites the San Bernardino terror shootings and incidents of racial unrest across the country as a reason to avoid causing further "dissension" in a nation racked by "anger, fear and despair."

In a Friday email, Pam Olsen, president of the Florida Prayer Network, said the heated controversy that comes with placing a nativity scene on government property each Christmas has become too much for her.

"Our nation is in great grief and turmoil right now due to multiple mass-shootings that have taken place, people grieving their lost loved ones due to senseless violence, racial tensions growing across the nation, and anger, fear and despair have gripped our county," Olsen wrote, the Florida blog site SaintPetersBlog reports.

"After much prayer, I truly want the message of Christ, The Son of God, born in a manger so long ago in Bethlehem, to be heard very clearly at this difficult time, instead of the dissension in the Capitol rotunda — This is not the year for that kind of debate in our rotunda!"

While a Jewish menorah and a gay pride-supporting "Festivus Pole" will reportedly still be erected at the state capitol, a display by the Satanic Temple most likely will not appear, the group says, as it is meant to be an antagonist to a Christian presence at the capitol.

"As the assertion of plurality is always primary in our holiday displays, and many of our activities, we feel that our Satanic Holiday displays work best in a forum where a Nativity is present," the New York-based Satanic Temple said in an email," News Service of Florida reports.

"Without a Nativity display we haven't been properly motivated to apply for a display of our own. Should the decision to not set up a Nativity be reversed at any point, however, we have a beautiful display at the ready."

The group doesn't actually worship Satan, but is a strong proponent of separation of church and state, News Service of Florida reports.

A creche in honor of Baby Jesus particularly inflames the sentiments of such advocates.

Chaz Stevens is responsible for the "Festivus Pole," which takes its name from a "Seinfeld" television sitcom reference. Last year, he made no secret of the motivation behind his display as the Florida Prayer Network erected its nativity scene.

"The fact that apparently 15 state capitols now have a manger? That's 15 opportunities to mock, ridicule, and scorn," Stevens said, WFSU reported.

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A Florida Christian group that has displayed a nativity scene in the rotunda of the state Capitol for the past two years has decided against doing so this Christmas season.
nativity scene, florida, capitol building, christmas
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2015-51-07
Monday, 07 Dec 2015 05:51 PM
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