Nativity scene back on display at RBC Hall

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By Chris McCarthy/Publisher/Editor

Hundreds of people gathered on the grounds of Rainbow City Hall on Dec. 19 in support of the municipality’s decision to restore a Christmas nativity scene on display. 

Earlier in the week, city officials took down the display in response to a letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation that said in part that the display is “an inherently Christian message on government property.” According to the foundation, a local resident registered a complaint about the scene.

“I’m a Christian, and I believe in that manger,” said Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun. “I believe that Jesus lived and died so we could be saved. I’m honored to be the mayor of Rainbow City, and as long as I’m mayor, I’m going to do what I think is right, and I’m not moving that manger scene.” 

Brought about in large part to messaging on social media, attendees were encouraged to bring flashlights. The event featured a singing of “Silent Night” and “This Little Light of Mine,” remarks of support by State Rep. Mack Butler and State Sen. Phil Williams and a moment of prayer led by White Springs Baptist Church Pastor Abel Garcia, who at one point invited every local pastor in attendance to join him up front.

“When Brother Abel and I spoke, we talked about having this rally to support our city fathers for taking a stand,” said Butler. “I wanted all of you to bring a light to shine, because this is about Christmas and birth of Christ.” 

Garcia described the gathering as coming together of a Church of Etowah, regardless of one’s Christian affiliation. 

“God decided that tonight would be the night that we’d gather together and shine our light for Him,” said Garcia. “He has divinely orchestrated our presence here tonight, so that the world would see that His church is still alive. What is happening in our community is but a part of His great design. This night is more about a nativity scene or religious rights. Look around you tonight and you’ll see Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutheran, Charismatic, Independent and Church of God. And perhaps for the first time, God will allow you to see not many denominations, but rather, one body.”

“I want to teach my children to recognize that God set things into motion using certain symbols,” said Rainbow City resident Suzy Bradley. “Starting with the forbidden fruit with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Ark and Noah, the rainbow after the flood, all the way to the stable and the baby in a manger, which gives us the nativity scene, followed by other meaningful symbols all the way to the cross. How can we teach our children about the symbols God uses in the Bible without having an example to show them to keep our faith growing? I firmly believe if we lose sight of those things and don’t teach our kids why we have these things, eventually they will lose sight and our beliefs will be at risk. Leave it alone so our future generations will have the same opportunity to learn as we all have before.”

“When I look at this Nativity scene, I’m reminded of how Christmas is so much more than gifts, goodies and yes even getting together with family and friends,” said Southside resident Gail Long. “Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  If not for the birth of Jesus, the baby lying in that manger born of the Virgin Mary, there would be no hope of salvation that is offered to each of us and there would be no assurance of eternal life and there would be no promise of His return. Christ gives us the freedom to decide for ourselves to choose to accept or reject His gift salvation and eternal life through Him.  If non-believers chooses to reject that gift, that is their choice. But why would that give them the right to step in and remove a symbol of the gift I chose to accept?”

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