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War against Christmas: Getting Serious
Although it is still early in the Season, my impression is that this is going to be a bumper Christmas for War against/on Christmas action. The traffic generated by Google News alerts for both phrases seems heavy.
And both sides seem to be getting more serious. Maybe the passage of time has made them realize how important the matter really is.
Bob Livingston's Personal Liberty Digest has a fine essay The War on Christmas by Chip Wood (Dec 11 2009). Noting
...the battle against public display of anything religious claimed another victim, this time in Washington, D.C. The new visitor's center at the United States Capitol contains a replica of the Speaker's rostrum in the House chamber. It's an exact copy, except for this change: The actual chair has the words "In God We Trust" engraved across the top. The phrase is missing from the copy
Wood goes on to develop a root-and branch argument about the process by which Christmas has been driven from the public square:
Permit me to rant for a bit about one of the biggest lies the anti-religious zealots have used against us. It is that "the Constitution requires the separation of church and state."
Baloney. The Constitution requires no such thing.
Denouncing the Supreme Court's power grab, he writes:
...for most of my lifetime, layer upon layer of additional government has been sanctioned, and even initiated, by the black-robed justices of the U.S. Supreme Court - men and women who regularly and repeatedly ignore the very first sentence of the document they have sworn to uphold.
...let's turn to the First Amendment (the one used to justify arguments for "the separation of church and state") and see what it actually says.
Here is how it begins:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
That seems pretty clear, doesn't it? "Congress shall make no law," either promoting a religion or prohibiting one.
According to the Constitution, what are the states allowed to do, when it comes to religion (or just about anything else)? The answer is, pretty much whatever they want.
Could a state require that the Ten Commandments be posted in every courthouse? Sure it could.
Could a city or county government install a creche on its lawn every Christmas? Absolutely.
The implication here of course is that properly-constituted and motivated legislatures could be the ultimate resort of a citizenry outraged at the repression of the appropriate observance of the traditions it venerates.
This of course would infuriate Marilyn Henry, writing a column in The Jerusalem Post:Metro Views: A War on Christmas? 12/12/2009
My baby-boomer generation was bombarded with Christmas music...I can sing these songs as I would an early Beatles tune or an advertising jingle for a popular product - recalled without thinking.
she writes a celebration of the eradication of Christmas acknowledgement in American public schools, recently upheld by anti-Christmas U.S. Third District of Appeals in rejecting a suit by the valiant Thomas More Law Center. (See the Center's comment: A Christmas Insult to Christians - Third Circuit Approves School's Ban on "Silent Night" November 25, 2009 ).
Henry - despite the Irish sound of her name the wife of a New Jersey Rabbi - happily notes the Court paused to gloat that it was, in effect, legislating a change:
The federal court acknowledged that "those of us who were educated in the public schools remember holiday celebrations replete with Christmas carols, and possibly even Hannuka songs, to which no objection had been raised."
More importantly, she names her view of the stakes:
the Thomas More Law Center referred to the federal court decision in the New Jersey case as a "Christmas insult to Christians." Had the decision gone the other way, we would be writing about a holiday insult to American Jews.
We would? Is repressing Christmas necessary to show appropriate politeness to American Jews?
Is that really a wise way to frame this debate?
In Israel, apparently, repressing Christmas is indeed what respect for Jews requires:
Jewish lobby wages war on Christmas trees Ari Galhar Ynetnews.com 12.08.09
But is America a province of Israel?