McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Had Meredith Wilson written the classic song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” today, he might well have included additional lyrics.
Though Wilson’s 1951 tune is not religious in nature, in order to capture the true spirit of Yule de jour he probably would have added “lawsuits” and “banned Nativity scenes” alongside “toys” and “candy canes.”
The Christmas wars are well underway from sea to shining sea. In fact, the skirmishes began early this year — so early, we could even deem them the Thanksgiving wars.
Maryland public schools forbade the inclusion of the Pilgrims’ faith in the teaching of Thanksgiving. Students were told the Pilgrims’ purpose for their fall feast was to express gratitude to the Indians. Left out was the Puritans’ primary motive for the 3-day celebration: to thank God.
New York City allows Menorahs to be displayed during Hanukkah and the Islamic star and crescent during Ramadan, but no displays relating to the birth of Jesus are allowed during Christmas.
In Denver, a church was not allowed to have a float in the “Parade of Lights” because “direct religious themes” were not allowed. However, the Two Spirit Society, a support group for American Indians who are homosexual, bisexual or “transgender,” was allowed to participate. The group honors homosexuals as “holy people.”
School districts in Florida and New Jersey have banned all Christmas carols. One city in Kentucky declined an offer from a church to stage a live Nativity in the town square. And in Kirkland, Wash., a production of “A Christmas Carol,” was stopped because of Tiny Tim’s prayer, “God bless us everyone.”
In many cities, Christmas trees have given way to “holiday trees” or “trees of light.”
Community parades which once celebrated Christmas are now deemed to be “winter” or “holiday parades.” The city I live in hosts an annual “Santa Claus Parade.”
The reasons given for expunging references to Christmas from the public square are twofold. One is a desire to not offend those who are not Christians. The second reason is a fear of violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Both reasons are unfounded.
I can appreciate those who want to be sensitive to non-Christians. However, surveys show that 90-plus percent of Americans observe Christmas. The fact is that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christians believe Jesus is God who became flesh in order to redeem mankind from the curse of sin. Other religions view him as a prophet or a good teacher.
To be offended over the public celebration of a significant historical religious figure is being overly sensitive.
I live in Oregon, one of the most secular states in America. As such, I am constantly confronted with public displays paying homage to secular ideas.
When my family is faced with the public enshrinement of secular humanism tenets, such as evolution, I don’t sue to remove the display. I simply explain to my children that many in our society believe that God had nothing to do with the creation of the world. I then reinforce why we believe otherwise.
When it comes to Christmas, I am not enamored by all things associated with the holiday. Santa Claus is one tradition I can do without. However, I do not sue to banish the jolly old man from Christmas. Instead, I teach my kids about Saint Nicholas from whence the legend of Santa springs and stress the reason for the celebration is Jesus, not a pretend elf.
As for public displays of Christmas violating the First Amendment, let me borrow a famous line connected with the season, “Bah humbug!”
The First Amendment does not mandate the banning of religion from the public square. It only forbids the government from establishing or interfering with the pursuit of a particular religion.
How does teaching that the Pilgrims were religious constitute a law establishing a religion? How does allowing a Nativity scene on public property constitute a law establishing a religion? How does the singing of carols constitute a law establishing a religion?
Christmas observances can only “look” like Christmas when they are depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. They might not be deemed politically incorrect, but they certainly do not violate the Constitution.