With a combination Christmas concert, religious service and political rally, the Florida Prayer Network officially opened its first Nativity scene inside Florida’s Capitol on Tuesday, calling it a way of “celebrating the Christ in Christmas.”
“The government’s not doing this, we are,” said Pam Olsen, executive director of the International House of Prayer Tallahassee.
With a capella Christmas carols by the Tallahassee Community Christian School, Olsen and speakers at the event said the manger in the capital is a symbol of religious freedom.
“We’re taking a stand today for Christ in Christmas,” speaker Scott Beigle, founder and president of Faith Radio said.
Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based company fighting that mandate in court, helped sponsor the Nativity in the Capitol, Olsen said. It agreed to provide the manger after she contacted the company about the event in the past few weeks.’
“They were incredibly gracious to us,” she said. “Hobby Lobby helped us greatly.”
The Nativity might be new this year, but Olsen is an old hand at the state Capitol, having organized prayer events there for the past 20 years, including a prayer service in the building after 9/11.
She said Hobby Lobby shares the values behind the Nativity in the Capitol.
“They’re fighting for their rights as a Christian company,” Olsen said. ”We’re fighting for religious freedom.”
Alejandro Capote, a Cuban immigrant and political and community coordinator of Nols4Life, said the Nativity scene in the heart of state government would “ensure that freedom of expression is honore for generations to come.”
“When we courageously take a stand, the spines of others are stiffened,” he said.
In an interview after the ceremony, Olsen said the manger was particularly important this year, when religious freedom seems under attack by Obamacare’s requirement that companies with religious objections to abortion pay for birth-control drugs that like the “morning after pill” that can cause abortions.
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