Christmas – believe it or not – is right around the corner.
For us, at CRE, this means we have to gear up for the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and like-minded groups, who are on a search-and-destroy mission to eliminate anything Christian about Christmas. These legal Grinches threaten lawsuits and/or file them against schools, towns, and others across the country over the use of Christmas symbols and sayings.
Fearing legal action, a lot of governmental entities tend to cave and infringe on rights of Christians to appease the Grinches. Given this tension, it is important for us to know
What is legal?
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does require the government refrain from promoting religion; however, our activist friends often forget the First Amendment also condemns hostility toward religion. In other words, the constitution expects a balanced, common-sense approach toward Christianity and Christmas, not knee-jerk censorship.
A general rule of thumb is to compare what is allowed with what is not allowed. If an entity permits certain types of clothing, songs, art, etc. that are secular in nature the entity must also allow same types of things that are Christian in nature. For example, if a Santa Claus figure is tolerated on public property, a nativity scene should be okay as well.
This rule applies with equal force in public schools. If students are permitted to choose their own songs to sing in a Christmas program, the school cannot praise Frosty the Snowman while silencing Silent Night. If students can wear a rock-band t-shirt, no one should fuss about a Christian-themed shirt. And if kids can meet and discuss chess, the environment, LGBTQ + issues, the same opportunity should be afforded for those who want to gather and pray.
Generally speaking, no one can force a school or government entity to include religious songs and symbols in their presentations. But if they open the door to similar things, they cannot discriminate against Christianity just because it is religious. And, of course, with Christmas, a holiday specifically set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ, the elimination of Christian viewpoints is particularly egregious.
No one, not the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, or the government itself, can take Christ out of Christmas.