PHOTOS: Live Nativity Scene (with Camels) Storms Supreme Court

There may be no room at the inn for the newborn Christ child, but is there room for free speech at the United States' highest court?

Around noon on Thursday, an elaborate Nativity scene featuring live actors – the Holy Family, the Wise Men, a drummer boy, two camels, a donkey, and myriad others – processed from 2nd Street NE in Washington, D.C. to the steps of the Supreme Court.

Yes, the animals were live, too, including the camels.  There was a small one (officially named Junior) and a large one (presumably, per one reporter the American Thinker talked to, named Senior).  See them here:

Oops – rather, see them here:


Junior in the foreground, and Senior (maybe?) in the background.

The organization Faith and Action put together the live Nativity, with Rev. Pat Mahoney helping to officiate and Chief of Program Peggy Nienabar keeping the procession on track.

Nienabar told the American Thinker that the live Nativity has been a staple of Faith in Action for six years.  (Other locations for the scene include the News Corp. Building at the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.)  When asked what kind of response they've gotten from the man on the street, she replied, "Tons.  We've had up to almost three hundred people actually walk with us, and just participate.  Oh, absolutely positive.  We've never had anything negative."

As for the media response, "[w]ell, we usually are pretty overwhelmed.  The media likes to call it sometimes 'Abbey Road,' because they like the 'Three Kings' picture in front of the Supreme Court and the Capitol."


Something like this.

Mahoney, who was instrumental in getting the state of Massachusetts to return Justina Pelletier to her family and speaks out frequently against the atrocities being committed against Christians and others in the Middle East, told the American Thinker that "over the years, we've seen an erosion of public expressions of faith, and that's particularly true at Christmas."  Though, per Mahoney, the Supreme Court has ruled that "allowing Nativities in front of public buildings, county courthouses, city halls, state capitols is a violation of the establishment clause," what Faith and Action is doing is not illegal: "individuals can go out and get permits. ... We got the permit.  The animals actually had to get their shots.  It was more complicated, I think, than the Iranian nuclear discussions going on right now."

(Junior bellowed in the background – Mahoney suggested that the camel might be a Pentecostal, getting excited at Mahoney's preaching.)


The little drummer boy.

"Our position on this is," Mahoney summarized, "if we can have a Nativity display in front of the United States Supreme Court, go past the Capitol – the highest court in the land, the highest legislative body in the land – then any American can come share the powerful message of Christmas."

Reporters with cameras and microphones crowded around the Nativity scene, edging each other out to get the best shot.  The ACLU might be dismayed to read that passersby were all smiles, with some individuals and couples lining up to get pictures taken with the Nativity players.

Asked if he was targeting any particular Supreme Court justices with the display, Mahoney said, "Uh, I kinda know nine of them that would be good.  I hope they see it, and we have heard that the justices have seen it.  ... It's incredible: legislators who I won't mention have actually stopped and gotten their picture taken with Junior[.]"

The procession, taking up the length of almost a block, made it to the Supreme Court, where the actors remained for about fifteen minutes. 

From there they continued to the 2nd Street location where they started, where they allowed more photos to be taken for a brief time.

"We live in a society of supposed pluralism and openness and tolerance," Mahoney concluded.  "The Constitution promotes freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  Everyone should have the right to express their view in the public square, free from government harassment and intimidation, regardless of what that faith tradition is. ... In fact, we're – in a way, getting these permits, we've helped every faith tradition."

The American Thinker did not see Justice Anthony Kennedy vacillating over whether to get a picture with Junior or Senior, nor Justice Antonin Scalia clucking with disapproval at the reasoning of the donkey.

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  Contact him at drew@americanthinker.com, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.

There may be no room at the inn for the newborn Christ child, but is there room for free speech at the United States' highest court?

Around noon on Thursday, an elaborate Nativity scene featuring live actors – the Holy Family, the Wise Men, a drummer boy, two camels, a donkey, and myriad others – processed from 2nd Street NE in Washington, D.C. to the steps of the Supreme Court.

Yes, the animals were live, too, including the camels.  There was a small one (officially named Junior) and a large one (presumably, per one reporter the American Thinker talked to, named Senior).  See them here:

Oops – rather, see them here:


Junior in the foreground, and Senior (maybe?) in the background.

The organization Faith and Action put together the live Nativity, with Rev. Pat Mahoney helping to officiate and Chief of Program Peggy Nienabar keeping the procession on track.

Nienabar told the American Thinker that the live Nativity has been a staple of Faith in Action for six years.  (Other locations for the scene include the News Corp. Building at the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.)  When asked what kind of response they've gotten from the man on the street, she replied, "Tons.  We've had up to almost three hundred people actually walk with us, and just participate.  Oh, absolutely positive.  We've never had anything negative."

As for the media response, "[w]ell, we usually are pretty overwhelmed.  The media likes to call it sometimes 'Abbey Road,' because they like the 'Three Kings' picture in front of the Supreme Court and the Capitol."


Something like this.

Mahoney, who was instrumental in getting the state of Massachusetts to return Justina Pelletier to her family and speaks out frequently against the atrocities being committed against Christians and others in the Middle East, told the American Thinker that "over the years, we've seen an erosion of public expressions of faith, and that's particularly true at Christmas."  Though, per Mahoney, the Supreme Court has ruled that "allowing Nativities in front of public buildings, county courthouses, city halls, state capitols is a violation of the establishment clause," what Faith and Action is doing is not illegal: "individuals can go out and get permits. ... We got the permit.  The animals actually had to get their shots.  It was more complicated, I think, than the Iranian nuclear discussions going on right now."

(Junior bellowed in the background – Mahoney suggested that the camel might be a Pentecostal, getting excited at Mahoney's preaching.)


The little drummer boy.

"Our position on this is," Mahoney summarized, "if we can have a Nativity display in front of the United States Supreme Court, go past the Capitol – the highest court in the land, the highest legislative body in the land – then any American can come share the powerful message of Christmas."

Reporters with cameras and microphones crowded around the Nativity scene, edging each other out to get the best shot.  The ACLU might be dismayed to read that passersby were all smiles, with some individuals and couples lining up to get pictures taken with the Nativity players.

Asked if he was targeting any particular Supreme Court justices with the display, Mahoney said, "Uh, I kinda know nine of them that would be good.  I hope they see it, and we have heard that the justices have seen it.  ... It's incredible: legislators who I won't mention have actually stopped and gotten their picture taken with Junior[.]"

The procession, taking up the length of almost a block, made it to the Supreme Court, where the actors remained for about fifteen minutes. 

From there they continued to the 2nd Street location where they started, where they allowed more photos to be taken for a brief time.

"We live in a society of supposed pluralism and openness and tolerance," Mahoney concluded.  "The Constitution promotes freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  Everyone should have the right to express their view in the public square, free from government harassment and intimidation, regardless of what that faith tradition is. ... In fact, we're – in a way, getting these permits, we've helped every faith tradition."

The American Thinker did not see Justice Anthony Kennedy vacillating over whether to get a picture with Junior or Senior, nor Justice Antonin Scalia clucking with disapproval at the reasoning of the donkey.

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  Contact him at drew@americanthinker.com, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.