The Nativity refers to the story of the birth of Jesus as recorded in the Bible where He was visited by Wise Men from the East who had been following the Bethlehem Star and from shepards nearby who were visited by a host of angels. Jesus himself was in a manger in a stable or cave with Mary and Joseph.
The recreation of nativity scenes has been popular in Christian culture, especially around Christmas time. The scenes usually have three wise men, although the number of men is not stated in the text, only that they brought three gifts. Also, it is believed that the wise men did not arrive until some time after the birth, but they are still included in traditional nativity scenes.
While Nativity scenes have been a proud part of American heritage, in recent years they have often been opposed in lawsuits filed by intolerant liberals when displayed on public lands, an unfortunate part of the times.
In 2011, the Freedom from Religion Foundation noticed a nativity scene erected on the courthouse lawn at Athens, Texas. The foundation wrote to Henderson County seeking the removal of the nativity scene. The request sparked outcry across America, leading to a protest of 5,000 people (in a town with a population of 12,000) who wanted the scene retained. The Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, offered to defend the county if the case was taken to court, and was quoted as saying:
|“||Our message to the atheists is don’t mess with Texas and our Nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments...I want the Freedom From Religion Foundation to know that our office has a history of defending religious displays in this state.||”|
- Kerby, R. Thousands rally to save Texas nativity Beliefnet News, December 24, 2011