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Guest Post: Washington State Nativity Scene has Idaho Roots

December 19th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

You are well aware by now of the way in which Washington governor Christine Gregoire has bollixed up the issue of holiday displays in her state capitol building. After first saying she had to put up an atheist statement next to the Nativity scene because she was compelled by freedom of speech requirements to do so, she has subsequently forbidden any additional free speech displays of any kind.

What is less well known is that the Nativity scene that started all this ruckus was crafted by a former Idaho legislator, whose son serves today in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Dieter Bayer built the manger itself and a friend donated the figurines.

(His son, Cliff, represents District 21 in the Idaho legislature. Cliff has been a consistent and principled advocate for fiscal and social conservatism, and along with Sen. Russ Fulcher engineered last year’s increase in the grocery tax credit, which, when fully implemented, will represent the largest tax cut in the history of Idaho.)

Freedom of religion is important to Dieter because of his own history. He was born in Nazi Germany in 1934 and was enrolled, as all German boys were, as a cub scout in the Hitler Youth. (The following is summarized from the ADF story which you can read in full by clicking on the link that follows this segment.)

But even as a child, he heard Germans speaking of America and talking about its freedoms.

Dieter barely survived World War II (three siblings died of malnutrition), and had to dodge the Allied bombs that fell on his home city of Dresden.

He also remembers, as a boy, learning of the German government’s determination to dominate religion. His father told him that “They (churches) do what the government wants them to do.” (Two of Hitler’s propaganda slogans: “Politics do not belong in the church,” and “The church must be kept separate from the state.”)

He finally slipped through the Iron Curtain in 1962 and made his way to America, where he became a citizen and eventually moved to Idaho.

When they lived for a time in California, the death of the unborn child his wife Regina was carrying sealed their commitment to the pro-life movement. The baby was killed by a drunk driver, but when the Bayers filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the California Supreme Court ruled that the baby wasn’t a person, even though state law required a burial for a child who had been in the womb for more than five months.

Says Dieter, “I asked them what I was burying. They didn’t answer me.”

After they made their way to Idaho, Dieter was elected to the state legislature in 1984. Because of his outspoken conservative values, he soon became the target of hate mail (“We know where your kids go to school”) and was defeated through a concerted effort of his political foes, which included Planned Parenthood and the teachers’ union.

But he was introduced to Christ during his initial campaign, and soon learned that, “If you take Christ out of a nation, you have nothing left but a skeleton.”

This discovery ultimately led him, after a move to Washington State, to build the manger scene which is now in the state capitol, a manger scene which he was able to place in the Washington state capitol thanks to a legal victory won by the Alliance Defense Fund.

By way of warning, he says, “The controls our government is now placing on our churches here are reminiscent of ’state-run’ churches in Communist countries. We must, once again, free up the mouths of our churches to preach the Word as God gives it, without fear of retaliation.”

He concludes, “We need to repent, as individuals, and as a nation. We must come back to constitutional principles. We have to reverse this trend we are on, this godless way of living that is being encouraged by certain organizations. If America falls, then the rest of the world will fall in darkness. America is the last hope.”

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