There is no better way to usher in a New Year than with hope and light. And this year we head into 2017 with remnants from a surprising light after the American Nativity Scene project managed to bring back a Christmas crèche to the California Capitol after a 40-year hiatus.
Thanks to a national push by the Thomas More Society, California became the 13th state to have such a display at a statehouse. Other states that also display the Nativity are Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Washington.
California last displayed a Nativity in 1974 when, according to the Sacramento Bee, the sponsoring group decided not to continue its 35-year tradition, saying Gov. Jerry Brown—during his first stint as state CEO—would not allow it.
Such displays are especially important in a state like California, where assaults on religious freedom now border on the routine. In recent years, for instance, the state legislature either considered or passed bills that muzzle the religious liberties of Christian counselors, pregnancy care centers, private Christian colleges and students whose beliefs run counter to the LGBT community. And, as you know, we are in the midst of a lawsuit to protect the rights of a Hemet street preacher who was arrested while sharing the gospel on state-owned DMV property.
The Bible clearly calls believers to be Salt and Light. Now, more than ever, an increasingly dark culture is in desperate need of those rays of hope. The resurrection of the Nativity scene is an important first step.