Finnegan on traditional values

For years the favorite holiday of the year for families and children has been hands down Christmas.A season of hope and love.

It has always astounded me that somehow a small majority of people have tried to steal the beauty and friendliness of the season from all of us. One can count the times "happy holidays" has somehow now become the greeting chosen by many. What holiday one might ask, why Christmas has to be the answer.

Happy holidays is the choice for Barnes and Noble, CVS pharmacies, Office Depot, Radio Shack, Staples, Super Valu, Victorias Secret and others. Yet these same stores are all too happy to take our money as we keep their
Christmas dollars coming.

Don't dispair, as happily we have many options from retailers who "get it." They fill the void for the Bah Humbug stores who try to deny the reason for the season. Best Buy, Books a Million, Cabellos, Cosco, Hallmark, J.C.Penney , K Mart, Kohl's, Lowe's, Macy's, Menards, Nordstroms, Publix, Target, Walgreens, Walmart/Sams and others warmly welcome you with the real reason for the season. One must ask, why should we cowardly accept the insult to our faith and traditions when we do not have to my friends.

In Chicago we celebrated our 25th anniversary of the beautiful Nativity Scene in downtown Daley Plaza. I am fortunate to be one of the two owners of this maginificent scene. It did not come easy my friends. More on that later.

Two years ago we led a successful effort to feature the NS at the rotunda within the capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. Recently the state of Mississippi contacted our NS committee to ask for assistance in doing the same in their capitol building.

The good news is if you stand up for your first amendment (free speech) and fourteenty (equal protection under the law) rights,and form a NS committee, any state can to the same. Signage must clearly point out "This NS is not a state sponsored effort, but is paid for and maintained by members of the Nativity Scene Committee of Chicago."

Now the good news! In 2011 our group will go national with a "Creche Across America" program. Part of the program to make this possible will be the gift from an anonymous Santa of a beautiful four piece NS (value over $4,000) suitable for inside or outside display. This will be provided to states wanting to participate in keeping the true meaning of Christmas in front of the families within their states.

In addition, the Thomas More legal Society located in Chicago will stand ready to defend the constitutional protected right to place the scene within locations of TRADITIONAL PUBLIC FORUMS, such as within or in front of the state capitol buildings. Locations where rallies occur while people gather to express their beliefs. In Illinois, as mentioned, you will find the NS prominently displayed within the state rotunda in the capital building.

A NS committee must be formed to assure the steps are taken to get this accomplished. The storage, the putting up and taking down, what ever maintenance might occur, and publicity all part of the committees efforts. In
Chicago, we had Cardinal Francis George participate in the special ceremony that always occur when the set is once again set up. Over 300 people joyfully participated at this time.

In closing let me mention that the Chicago NS had for years stood outside Mayor Richard J. Daley's office. At his death the scene was placed in Daley Plaza, a bastion of free speech and public forum.

At this time the Jewish Congress sued to end the tradition claiming Government/religious entanglement, while at the same time the menorah was welcome (as it should have been) in the plaza. They were joined in 1985 by the ACLU and American athiests.

A temporary injunction was obtained to allow the NS to continue to be displayed. On December 4th 1989 case 87c10746, Grutzmacher v Public Building Commission in US District Court for the Northern District of Illnois, Judge James B Parsons ruled that the Building Commission was enjoined from discrimination from all forms of religious discrimination, and ordered the
Chicago Nativity Scene to remain up during the Christmas season.

Through the efforts of a courageous group of individuals, led by founder Bill Grutzmacher and Hiram Crawford, a Black Minister of the Israel Community Church, Justice was served. They refused to be shown the back of the bus on something as important as this was.

For the past 25 years a volunteer group of over 30 tradesmen donate their time to erect and then take down the scene. They are aptly named The God Squad.

"Yes Virginia," and all of my blog readers, there is a real Santa Claus, with a far greater meaning to what December 25th is all about. That is, if we have the commitment to be certain it never dies. How could anyone let that happen and look themselves in the mirror in the morning!

Information on the history of the CNS, and the legal rulings that are mentioned in this blog entry, that have set the legal precedent for success for other efforts across America, are available for the asking. Jim Finnegan 460 East Lake Shore Drive, Barrington, Illinois 60010.

If we do not have a NS at the Capitol Building in Tallassee, or any other state capitols across America, form the committee to make this possible. Let us know, and the set will be scheduled for delivery in time for the Christmas season in 2011.


Jim Finnegan

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