Rev. Patrick Mahoney plans to read the Christmas Story at the Capitol Tree on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 12:00 P.M.
The Capitol Christmas Tree is located on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building.
Rev. Mahoney met with Capitol Police officials telling them of his plans to sing Christmas Carols, read the Christmas story, pray for peace, justice and religious freedom, hold a small 5 inch Nativity Display and pray for political leaders at the Capitol Christmas Tree.
Police officials told him some of his activities may be prohibited or constitute an illegal demonstration.
Rev. Mahoney contacted his attorney, Jim Henderson Senior Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, who in turn called the Office of General Counsel for the Capitol Police on Tuesday, December, 21.
After talking with the Assistant General Counsel for the Capitol Police, Mr. Henderson sent Rev. Mahoney this email:
"Your use of the Bible or the ornament (Nativity Scene) would convert your activity, in the view of the Capitol Police, into a prohibited demonstration. If you failed to discontinue that activity on police direction you would be risking ticketing or arrest."
Rev. Mahoney told Capitol Police officials he would still read the Christmas Story and hold the Nativity Display on Thursday even if it meant arrest or citation.
This threat of arrest for reading from the Bible comes in the wake of national news stories reporting that the Capitol Christmas Tree has no ornaments depicting the Christmas Story, The Nativity or Jesus.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, states:
"It is hard to imagine that a minister, or any American, would face possible arrest or citation for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible or holding a Nativity Display in the palm of their hand in front of the Capitol Christmas Tree on the lawn of the United States Capitol Building.
"Yet, this is what I am facing on Thursday at noon.
"Sadly, we are seeing a growing hostility toward public expressions of faith in the public square especially during the Christmas Season.
"We are now seeing that at the Capitol Christmas Tree where there are no ornaments of Christ or the Nativity and a minister is facing arrest for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible.
"I was told I could hold sheet music, an instrument or camera in my hand, but if I hold a Bible or small Nativity Scene that would be considered a 'prop' and cause me to face arrest or citation.
"I want to make to clear that every American should have the right to express their faith in the public square free from government intimidation or harassment.
"If that means spending time in jail for reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, then I consider that a small price price to pay."
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