BISMARCK —BISMARCK — There will be a Nativity scene and accompanying celebration in the North Dakota Capitol building for the first time.
The display of newly born Jesus Christ, Mary, Joseph and the Angel in the stable will be blessed and lighted at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5, next to the enormous Christmas tree that sits in the Capitol's Memorial Hall. It will stay up until Friday, Dec. 13.
Religious advocacy group American Nativity Scene and The Thomas More Society, a Chicago law firm, will fund the display as they have done previously in at least 21 other state capitols, according to the law firm's website. The advocacy group says on its website it serves to provide an answer to "attacks on religious freedom and Christmas" by supporting private funding of Nativity scenes in public places. The nonprofit law firm has spent the last two decades promoting socially conservative causes, including opposition to gay marriage and legal abortion.
"Privately funded Christmas displays are legally allowed in traditional public forums such as state capitols, county complexes or city hall lawns," American Nativity Scene president Ed O'Malley said. "We are committed to our goal of keeping Christ in Christmas across the nation."
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Catholic priest Rev. Franklin Miller and Bismarck pastor Kurt Chaffee will be present at Thursday's 30-minute blessing and lighting ceremony.