Leave it to Wisconsin to Get Weird with Nativities

On Sunday, the group Wisconsin Family Action put up a nativity scene of the birth of Jesus in the Capitol rotunda.

Wednesday, an atheist group responded with a much different nativity scene.

It has the same setup: wise men, a baby in a manger, angels, but its certainly not the nativity scene most people are used to seeing.

The wise men are Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.

The baby is an African girl, to represent the birthplace of humanity.

The angels are an astronaut and the Statue of Liberty.

The group responsible for it admits they wouldn’t have even created it, if it wasn’t for the Christian nativity scene put up three days earlier.

“But, since it is a public forum, it didn’t look like legally we could do anything, so, we were left with putting up our own, natural nativity display,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

FFRF is putting up a fight against what it calls the blurring of church and state.

“We think that the rotunda is getting too littered, we don’t think that it should be a public forum for religion at the seat of government,” said Gaylor.

The nativity scene controversy comes just a few weeks after Governor Scott Walker referred to the pine tree put on display in the rotunda as a Christmas Tree, instead of a Holiday Tree, which it had been called since 1985.

“Yeah, I feel like the fact that there was a statement that, ‘this is a Christmas Tree, not a Holiday Tree,’ does make it a little…those lines are merging and I don’t think that should happen in government, said UW Student Ali Bramson.

Others think the Christian references and displays are hurting anybody.

“I personally thought it was mockery not to call it a Christmas Tree down through these years, because it seemed like you couldn’t celebrate any of the holidays,” said John McNeill, a Christian.

While the controversy goes on, many wish both sides would simply go away.

“I would rather see neither,” said visitor Caroline Greenwald. “I believe that the state represents the people, and the people are very diverse and represents all sorts of religion or non-religious attitudes or feelings.”

“We certainly need separation of church and state, so I think its very unfortunate that it becomes an issue,” said Ray Nashold, a former state worker.

The nativity scenes are both permitted and will stay up through the holidays.

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