CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- RFFM NEWS
Thanksgiving traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas season. However, with the assault on religious liberty gaining momentum in America, it is hard to find symbols in the public square which signify the true meaning of Christmas.
But there are those who are not ashamed to acknowledge their faith and what the season truly represents to many Americans. On November 24th, a group of Chicagoland residents erected a Nativity Scene in the Richard J. Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets in downtown Chicago. A group of tradesmen who call themselves the "God Squad" volunteered their time, skills and effort to construct a life-sized manger display to celebrate the birth of Christ.
The "God Squad" volunteers consist of Chicago area trade union members and represent the gamut of Christian denominations. After construction of the display was completed, a procession was held, culminating in the placing of a figure in the crèche representing baby Jesus.
The manger scene had stood inside Chicago's City Hall since the early years of the Richard J. Daley administration. However, after Daley's death, the Nativity Scene was moved to its current location because critics asserted the manger display crossed the Constitutional boundaries of church and state.
Although the Nativity scene was moved to the Daley Center Plaza and is supported solely by private donations, it took a court ruling to allow the annual display to remain at its current location. In 1989, Judge James B. Parsons ruled the manger scene did not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, thereby dismissing a lawsuit filed by the American Jewish Congress, the ACLU and Atheists of America.
"Unfortunately, in the past, the Nativity Scene received little attention from the press," said Jim Finnegan who along with Terry Hodges are co-chairmen of the Nativity Scene Committee. "Previously, the only time we received media publicity was when our baby Jesus statue was stolen. I think it's important that people can come and see something which represents what Christmas is really all about. And with the effort of so many wonderful volunteers, this beautiful Nativity Scene is made possible."
After its theft, the baby Jesus statue was eventually recovered from a locker in Chicago's Union Station.
Following the construction of the manger scene last Saturday morning, a brief re-dedication ceremony took place. A Bell Choir from Mundelein's Santa Maria del Popolo Church performed at the event, which featured a procession of children from throughout Chicagoland.
The Nativity display will stand until December 29th.
To read a complete history of the Nativity Scene in Chicago go to: https://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2007/11/a-christmas-tra.html
Captions for photographs:
Top: Daley Center Nativity Scene; Middle: God Squad Volunteers; Bottom: Maeve O'Malley carries Christ Child figurine
Note: Click on photos to enlarge.