Members of the Thomas More Society have returned to the Nebraska Capitol to display a Nativity, but it won’t be on display for long.
The Thomas More Society, which asserts and defends the rights of groups and individuals to use public spaces for religious expression, first received a permit for a Nativity in one corner of the first-floor rotunda last year. When it returned this year, it discovered a group of atheists had reserved all four corners the week of Christmas.
“I think the reason that’s important is not just because it’s foul play, it demonstrates something, which is that they aren’t so interested in just getting their message out as they are in closing ours down,” Martin Cannon, a lawyer with the Thomas More Society in Omaha tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
“It’s a kind of a sign of the times that the people who don’t like what we believe in are trying to shut us out,” according to Cannon.
Cannon insists the display falls well within expression protected by the Constitution.
“A good way to think of the Capitol Rotunda is to think of it as the public sidewalk that runs right up to the Capitol building, through the rotunda, and out the other side,” Cannon says. “We all know and understand instinctively that a person can have his message out on the public sidewalk and the rotunda needs to be viewed the same way. It’s basically the public forum.”