Alternative Nativity Scene Set Up At Capitol

Freedom From Religion Foundation Creates Display

Published On: Dec 14 2011 06:23:44 AM CST   Updated On: Dec 15 2011 01:49:31 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

An atheists' group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has set up an alternative Nativity scene in the Capitol Rotunda.

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The display, which was installed on Wednesday, is in response to the traditional Christian Nativity scene on display at the Capitol, which was assembled by the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action.

Aside from the manger, the Freedom From Religion Foundation's display isn't the typical Nativity scene. The display includes a baby girl in a manger, three wise people and Venus as Mary. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain make up the three wise people. The angels in the scene include the Statue of Liberty and an astronaut.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation said its display is meant to celebrate the winter solstice. The group said that in celebrating the winter solstice, it is celebrating reality.

"It is not intended to be offensive," said Annie Laurie Gaylor with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. "There may be Christians who consider it blasphemous. That's not why we did it. It's representing our point of view. We're honoring real people and real things."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation said it wants all religious displays removed from the Capitol. But since that hasn't happened, the group said the goal of its display is to show all thoughts are welcome at the Capitol.

The group has asked Capitol police for extra security around its display in case of damage or theft.

Julaine Appling, of Wisconsin Family Action, said there's room for a number of different voices. She said she hopes people come to the Capitol to enjoy the expression of Christmas messages on display there.