Celebrating Christmas publicly is an expression of Christian faith and a long held seasonal tradition. In an often hostile and secular environment, reminding people of the birth of Christ opens the door for conversations about the origins of Christmas.

That has changed since the 1960s due to lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), atheists, and religious sects that feel offended by Jesus in the public square. Sometimes, it’s public officials who press the issue. When Jesus said to pick up your cross and follow me, he knew it would not be an easy road to travel.

In 2004, citizens of Racine, Wisconsin worked for 10 months to gain a permit to set up a nativity scene on Racine’s Monument Square. After months of rejection, the Common Council approved the permit when a list of 16 local churches supported the project.

What began as a four-by-four foot display has grown into a 40-foot nativity scene with two light pole banners. The first year, about 500 people from the area visited the display. Today, the number has grown to thousands. An annual budget of $2,500 supports this project.

One year, the nativity scene was destroyed by a wind storm. Children at a local Christian elementary school raided their piggy banks to raise $300 to help restore the display. The good people of Racine demonstrate perseverance in standing for Christian values and religious liberty.

Mike Steffen

Moline

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