It all began when somebody complained about a nativity scene in the middle of town in Wadena, Minnesota. Residents are refusing to hold their peace and are showing, rather than telling, just what they think about the situation. Town residents are binding together and inspiring Christians across the nation to stand together in unity and place nativity scenes in their own yards, and posting photos of the beautiful displays on the Wadena Nativity Display Facebook page.
The forced removal of the nativity display in the center of town has been referred to as "out-of- control political correctness." Freedom from Religion responded to a complaint and insisted that the nativity scene violated the separation of church and state because it was in the city's public park, Burlington Northern Park. The organization's attorney, Patrick Elliot, threatened to sue the city if it was not removed.
Other citizens in the town expressed that they did not want the display removed. Though the nativity display had been set up in the city's public park for many years prior to the complaint, the Wadena City Council didn't want to deal with the hassle or expense of a potential lawsuit, and so they voted to remove the display. They voted unanimously to allow the Ministerial Association take the responsibility for the scene, which is able to display it on private land.
City Mayor George Deiss commented that it looked, "wonderful" in the park, but the illuminated statues of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, as well as the lighted arches that led to it were more of a tradition for city residents rather than a reflection of any religious preference on the part of the city, itself.
Dani Sworski is one of many city residents who is very dissatisfied with the way that city council has handled the situation. She said of the Freedom of Religion organization, "I feel like they're just trying to bully our faith away."
Her family has a tradition of placing a nativity on their front lawn as a testimony during the Christmas season that symbolizes their faith and love for Jesus, as well as their deep gratitude toward the Lord for being an amazing source of strength, hope, love, joy, peace and so much more every day of the year.
The town's facebook page that displays pictures from hundreds of displays from around the city and other parts of the country is getting both negative and positive comments. But mostly, words of encouragement are showing up from visitors to the page. A few of those read as follows:
"From Ft. Worth Texas: God bless you and Merry Christmas!!!"
" Merry Christmas and may God bless each of you for standing for what you believe! From Caledonia, Ms!"
"Congratulations, Wadena!!!!! It is time to take a stand for religion!!! Keeping the Christ in Christmas!!!!!"
"The first amendment is about freedom OF religion, not freedom from religion. God bless those who display the nativities! My family has one in front of our home and I have one in front of my office."