Last month, the Wadena City Council voted to take down a Nativity scene that's traditionally been displayed at the city-owned Burlington Northern Park.
It came after a letter was sent to the city by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which argued it’s unlawful for a city to put up and maintain a religious scene, “thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion.”
A lot of residents were not happy.
And now, there are reportedly hundreds of Nativity scenes across the town, all on private property, WDAY reports.
There's a Facebook page called "Wadena NATIVITY Display" with hundreds of people showing interest. It's filled with congratulatory and supportive messages from around the country.
A Nativity scene (also called a crèche) is a model or presentation that shows the birth of Jesus Christ according to Christian theology, and usually includes Joseph and Mary as well as animals, Merriam-Webster explains. It’s generally put up before Christmas, then after Dec. 25 the baby Jesus figure is added, signifying his entrance into the world.
The movement was featured on Fox News' "Fox and Friends," and the Facebook video of the segment has more than 8,700 shares and more than 9,000 likes.
It started with a challenge from local Dani Sworski, who said she "wanted to make sure that we stood together, we came together for our faith, as friends as family, and we all kind of grew from this,” according to WDAY.
There are now more than 1,000 up around the town.
Lakeland Public Television says locals are actually trying to break a record for most Nativity scenes.
As for the original scene? It was purchased by the Wadena Ministerial Association for $25, and is now on display outside the Wadena hospital, FOX 9 reports.
Christianity in the US
Last year, amid similar stories across the country, Pew Research Center did a survey and found:
- 44 percent of Americans said Christian symbols (such as a Nativity scene) should be allowed on government property
- 28 percent of U.S. adults said those symbols should only be permitted if they are accompanied by symbols from other religions, such as Hanukkah candles.
- And 20 percent said there should be no religious displays on government property, period.
Earlier this year, Pew found about 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians – the highest number of Christians in any country in the world.