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Spin Control

Posts tagged: nativity scene

Holiday news at Capitol and beyond

OLYMPIA — The state Capitol Grounds will feature a Nativity Scene this year, and a park a few blocks north will have a nine-foot lighted Menorah, state officials said.

The Nativity Scene will be go up Dec. 11 and come down Dec. 28. The Menorah goes up Dec. 6, and there's a lighting ceremony on Dec. 9 at Sylvester Park, about three blocks down Capitol Boulevard.

An atheist group usually arranges for some sort of display, also, but so far they haven't requested the necessary permits. The outside displays are a result of the problems the state had a few years ago inside the Capitol Building when competing displays seemed on a path to fill up the available space. (Regular Spin Control readers may recall how the controversy generated fodder for conservative talking heads fuming about a “War on Christmas” on television and radio). 

All religious displays are now required to be set up outside. The only interior display is the holiday tree in the Rotunda.

This year, the battleground in the War on Christmas appears to be in Santa Monica, Calif., as this video points out.

A way, with a manger, to mark the season

Creche erected on the Capitol Campus.

OLYMPIA — About a half block to the south of the atheists's sign (see below), a Nativity Scene occupies a section of the Capitol Campus to the east of the Insurance Building and the Legislative Building.

In past years, the fight over display space has reached epic proportions, with FOX News weighing in on the propriety of placing a sign questioning religion inside the Capitol. A few years ago, the state banned all holiday displays inside the Capitol with the exception of the “holiday tree”, which the Association of Washington Business has sponsored for decades.

To put up a display outside, sponsors must receive a permit from the state Department of Enterprise Services, which oversees the Capitol grounds and buildings.

The Nativity Scene, which is making its second appearance on the Capitol grounds, is sponsored by attorney Hunter Abell, a former Easterm Washington resident who now lives in Bothell.

Happy Solstice from the Capitol grounds

OLYMPIA — This year's version of the “war over Christmas” is pretty tame.

A Nativity Scene and a sign from an atheist organization, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, are coexisting nicely on the lawn in the park to the east of the Capitol and Insurance buildings.

A Menorrah for Hannukah is up in Sylvester Park, about four blocks north, not far from a well decorated Christmas tree.

O’Reilly at war on Washington?

News commentator Bill O’Reilly has been bugged by holiday activities in and around the Capitol for several years, ever since the state allowed atheists to place a sign in the building in 2008.
In a recent newscast,
he was asking a couple of Culture Warrior panelists for an update on the alleged “War on Christmas”, and – in the fullness of time as the Good Book says –  Washington state came up.
“You may recall that the state of Washington, in their Capitol Rotunda, put up an atheist thing, right next to the Christmas tree,” he said. (Fact check: A group of atheists put up the sign, not the state, and it wasn’t next to the tree, it was one level up as was a Nativity Scene.)
So what’s Washington doing this year? he asked Gretchen Carlson and Margaret Hoover. “Remains to be seen whether they’re going to allow Nativity Scenes and atheists to put – ” replied Hoover.
“So we don’t know yet, what the governor of Washington is going to have in her Rotunda,” O’Reilly said.
“They’re going to allow all displays,” Hoover said.
Not exactly. The only thing in the Rotunda is the holiday tree, which is named thus by its sponsor the Association of Washington Business, not the governor. No other displays are allowed inside the Capitol, and haven’t been for a couple years.
The Department of Enterprise Services says it has approved applications for a Nativity Scene near the Tivoli Fountain from Dec. 20 - 26, a banner from the Freedom From Religion Foundation on the Capitol Campus at roughly the same time, and a large menorah on the grounds at nearby Sylvester Park starting Dec. 16 for Hannukah.
So at ease, Xmas warriors.

Capitol Campus gets creche

OLYMPIA — A creche, aka a Nativity Scene, will be erected on the Capitol Campus this evening, and stay up through next week.

State officials said they approved a display permit this week from a Bothell, Wash., resident, for an outside Nativity Scene that will have about 10 pieces.

Hunter Abell, an Eastern Washington native who is now an attorney over here on the West Side, said he read a recent Spin Control item about the Catholic League's problems with getting their creche up, checked with the league and some other folks who might be putting up a display, and found out no one else was interested. So he decided to make the request on his own.

He picked up a set several days ago with figures ranging from one and a half to about three feet — the tallest being the standing figures like the magi — deciding that if the state said no, he could always put it up on his front lawn. But they approved his display permit.

“The Capitol is the people's house, and the campus is kind of the people's front lawn,” Abell said.

He plans to load Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, assorted shepherds and magi into his car and drive them to Olympia this afternoon. A sheep might have to be strapped to the roof, and unfortunately the figures don't qualify him for the carpool lane, so the planned 6:30 p.m. set up time on the South Tivoli lawn will depend a bit on traffic.

The Catholic League never got around to filling out their permit, and their creche, a one-piece ceramic display that was really meant for inside, might not have been very visible or held up well in the wet South Sound weather. Abell said his plastic figures will do just fine.

So it would seem that the big three — a menorrah, a Nativity scene and a display by atheists — have all been accounted for this season without a shot in the war on Xmas being fired.

To borrow a line from Tiny Tim, “God Bless us, every one.”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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