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First Ever Nativity Scene Goes Up In State Capitol, With Little Fuss

Ryan E. Poppe

A Catholic-supported group has been able to raise enough private funds to have a Nativity scene on display inside the Texas State Capitol, the week before Christmas. And the Texas Nativity Scene Project, the group that put this together, said the presence of the manger scene in the Capitol building is a win for those trying to keep the “Christ in Christmas.”

The project, which sits on the ground floor at the Capitol, actually the basement level, was sponsored by Lubbock Republican John Frullo, and paid for by private donations to the group. The project needed to have a patron from the legislature, in order for it to be displayed at the Capitol.

However, the fact of it being privately funded, allowed it, according to group spokesperson Trey Trainor, to be given the go ahead by the Preservation Board at the State Capitol to be on display in the week before Christmas. There are clear signs stating that the Nativity scene is there because of a private group and is not the work of the State Capitol.

“The Texas Capitol is a place where people of all different dominations, all different political affiliations come together, and anyone really can apply to have a display in the Capitol and I would encourage them to do so,” said Trainor.

He said that according to historical records, this was the first manger scene allowed to sit inside the State Capitol and called the display a win for uncovering the true meaning of Christmas. “I think there’s been very much an effort to drive 'Christ' and 'Christians' out of Christmas, to make it a much more materialistic element of just gift-giving and focusing on self, as opposed to the real reason we have the holiday, which is the birth of our savior.”

In a statement, the group American Atheists, which has been fighting for the separation of government and religion in any form for more than 50 years, said that though the display did mention that the scene was provided for by private donations, allowing it on the grounds of the Capitol bordered on public endorsement. 

No groups, however, have protested the addition of the Nativity scene, and it will be up until early next week.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.