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Wash. statehouse will get Nativity scene

Dec. 21, 2010 at 2:17 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A Nativity scene featuring life-size figures of Mary, Joseph, shepherds and magi will be displayed on the Washington State Capitol grounds, officials say.

Hunter Abell of Bothell, the sponsor, said in his application he plans to cover a 50-foot square with the Nativity, The Tacoma News Tribune reported. He said the scene will remain on the statehouse grounds in Olympia through Dec. 29.

Washington banned indoor religious holiday displays after deciding in 2008 the statehouse was open to all groups. Both religious and non-religious groups put up symbols, including a Festus pole for fans of the "Seinfeld" show, while officials fielded thousands of angry phone calls about an atheist display near a Nativity scene.

This season has been quiet so far. A Jewish group erected a large menorah on the Capitol grounds during Hanukkah, and atheists have supplied a decorated "tree of knowledge."

A spokesman said the Nativity will be on the other side of the fountain from the atheist tree.

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