Controversial nativity display removed from Texas state capitol

"winter solstice" display

Rejected and removed. Governor Greg Abbott kicks out a "Bill of Rights Nativity Scene" from the state capitol. The display showed the Bill of Rights as the baby Jesus. It was originally approved but some said it was offensive.

"The nativity is really just an outward expression of the joy and the love that we find this time of year in Christmas," said Trey Trainor of the Texas Nativity Scene Project.

Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus sit in a manger in a stately hallway of the Texas capitol. Trey Trainor of the Texas Nativity Scene Project says it's a reflection of Texas values. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation disagrees.

"We have almost a thousand members in Texas and a lot of our members reached out to us last year when the nativity scenes first went up in the capitol," said FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover.

This year, FFRF wanted to make a statement with a Bill of Rights nativity. They applied to have the display in the same spot where the Christian nativity usually sits.

"Our nativity scene is a response to the Christian nativity scene. It's not meant as a criticism of that display but just as an alternative perspective," said Grover.

"It's not expressing their belief. It's a mockery of our beliefs," said Trainor.

The FFRF display was located on the ground floor. But it was immediately removed Tuesday after a letter from the governor to the State Preservation Board which approved the application for the display. All nativity scenes were scheduled to be removed from the capitol on December 23rd before the State Preservation Board's Christmas break.

In the governor's letter to the State Preservation Board, Gov. Abbott urged the board to remove it immediately saying the exhibit, "...deliberately mocks Christians...promotes ignorance and falsehood. And suggests that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson worshipped the Bill of Rights in the place of Jesus."

FFRF says that's censorship.

"It's absolutely illegal for the government to give preference to one religious viewpoint over another," said Grover.

Trainor says the Bill of Rights as the baby Jesus, crossed the line of free speech.

"They want to continue this war on Christmas," said Trainor.

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