ARLINGTON HEIGHTS - Beginning Saturday, December 15, the Arlington Heights Park District annual holiday display will include a Nativity scene that depicts the traditional Christmas celebration of the birth of Christ.
"This is a very wonderful and commendable step," said Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Society. "We are gratified that Arlington Heights' holiday display will be more fully inclusive in recognition of citizens' belief that the Christmas holiday is also a holy day, when we honor the Nativity of Baby Jesus -- laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, born to poor parents, strangers from another town, visited by shepherds and honored by kings, and whom Christians have worshipped over millennia as King of Kings. This is Chapter One of the Greatest Story Ever Told -- a story that has had a huge secular significance over the course of Western civilization as well as deep spiritual meaning for believers."
The Christmas manger scene is a privately-sponsored, privately-funded, and First Amendment-protected open expression of religious belief, in this traditional public forum, underwritten by the Illinois Nativity Scene Committee. The Christ-centered display will be open to the public through January 5, 2013.
The crèche joins the many other Christmas-themed displays in the northwest suburb's North School Park, at Eastman Street and Arlington Heights Road, in the northwest Chicago suburban town of Arlington Heights.
A brief opening ceremony to launch the
Nativity's display in the park will be held at 1 p.m. Pastor Calvin Lindstrom of
Christian Liberty Church and Schools will speak, and Father Bill Zavaski of
Saint James Catholic Church will offer a blessing.
Brejcha elaborated: "This nativity scene in Arlington Heights, like other nativity scenes on Chicago's Daley Plaza and in the Rotunda of the State Capitol in Springfield, is constitutionally protected as both the free exercise of religious belief and free speech by private citizens in the public square. We thank Arlington Heights for honoring the right of citizens to proclaim the joyful message of Christmas in this public park."
The Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based non-profit public interest law firm, has been instrumental in defending and securing permits for annual Nativity displays in numerous venues. The Society offers free legal help to individuals and private citizen groups interested in putting up similar Nativity scenes -- privately sponsored and funded -- in any traditional public forum in their own towns, villages, and hamlets within Illinois or elsewhere. The Thomas More Society can be reached at 312.782.1680.