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Saturday, December 11, 2004
Churches reprise role
There's a Nativity scene and a sign wishing "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus" among the Santa, elves and boulder-size toys in the secular spectacular Honolulu City Lights on the City Hall lawn.
Two Christian churches, a Bahai congregation and two political action committees won the right to express their religious views on public property in an annual lottery. Thirteen nonprofit groups bid for the spaces next to Honolulu Hale in the drawing that has been a tradition since 1997.
The birth of Jesus has been depicted there since 1992, when a Pearl City church member convinced former Mayor Frank Fasi to allow it amid the city display he founded.
In 1997 the American Atheists threatened a discrimination suit because a Buddhist booth celebrating Bodhi Day, which Fasi OK'd two years earlier, had a less desirable location than the Christian booth. The atheists and the city administration reached a compromise establishing the lottery.
Wahiawa Door of Faith Church has won a space for the creche every year since then, according to pastor Steven Zarriello.
Nearby is a "Garden of Humanity" with the world's diverse people depicted as flowers. The booth by the National Assembly of the Bahai Faith affirms that religion's belief that all humanity is one race with one God. It's familiar to viewers, in its third year at the location.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is also a returnee. This year, the legend of the candy cane is depicted. Church member Janelle Dryden said the Christmas treat is replete with symbolism linked to Jesus, such as the curved shape of a shepherd's crook.
A map of the United States with a banner proclaiming "One Nation Under God" is the entry by Stand Up for America.
The Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values returned for a second year with a wedding cake model topped with a man and woman, the underlying message being opposition to same-sex unions. The text for viewers is two lines from "The Wedding Song," paraphrasing Matthew's gospel language:
"The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain; for whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name, there is Love."