Dec. 13, 2011: A woman walks past a sign displaying an Atheist message along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Calif.AP
Dec. 13, 2011: A woman walks past a two of the traditional displays showing the Nativity scene along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, Calif.AP
Feb. 20, 2011: Freshmen at the University of Montana, from left, Jake Coburn, Stephanie Ralls and Claire Dal Nogare, visit a statue of Jesus Christ at Whitefish Mountain Resort Whitefish, Mont.AP
Is there a War on Christmas? Not if its observance is measured by shopping and decorations, which grow gaudier and more expensive with each passing year. But there is a war on Christ in full swing. And since Christmas is about His birthday, naturally the secularizing community has turned its full force on the holiday.
Case in point: NBC’s Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman. During a Tuesday “Today” discussion of the tasks that make the Christmas season so busy, Snyderman let viewers in on what really irks her about the holiday. “I don't like the religion part. I think religion is what mucks the whole thing up … I think that's what makes the holidays so stressful.”
So yes, there is indeed a real “war on Christmas,” or, more accurately, it’s the winter campaign in the year-round war on Christianity.
Yes, there is indeed a real “war on Christmas,” or, more accurately, it’s the winter campaign in the year-round war on Christianity.
This year’s Christmas installment of religion-purging featured the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers complaining about a school production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The play is about a Peanuts character disillusioned by the commercialization of the Christmas season, who explained to his classmates the reason for the celebration of Christmas – the birth of Christ. The play’s “religious content” irked the society, as did the fact that the school organized a voluntary field trip to the play at a church. The pastor of the church planning to host the play eventually decided to cancel the production, citing a desire for peace.
The Department of Education cancelled an annual Christmas concert for a charity helping people in Africa – because the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State threatened to sue because the concert was held at a church.
The war on public expression of Christianity during Christmas is merely the spearhead of a larger war on publicly expressed faith in America. Secularists in the media such as Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post blast those who defend public expression of Christianity as a “small fringe” on the “far right.”
A North Carolina elementary school prevented a first grade girl from reading a poem she wrote about her grandparents during a school assembly. The reason? The poem included the line: “He prayed to God for peace. He prayed to God for strength.” The sacrosanct principle of “separation of church and state” clearly dictates that public school students must be protected from listening to first grade Bible-thumpers discuss their ancestors’ deluded customs.
The North Carolina school wasn’t the only school to join Orwell’s angels. Louisiana State University posted pictures of football fans on its website -- and photo-shopped the fans’ painted crosses out of the photos. When an outcry was raised, LSU spokesman Herb Vincent explained the school’s reasoning: “We don't want to imply we are making any religious or political statements, so we air-brushed it out. Only one of the students, who didn't appreciate it, actually contacted us about it. So next time, we'll just choose a different photo.” Painted crosses barely visible in the original picture apparently constitute a “religious statement.”
While LSU was forced to apologize for its censorship, more powerful entities are embracing the same tactics.
Government has taken an active role in purging publicly expressed Christianity. The White House asked Georgetown University to cover up a monogram of the name of Jesus during a May 2012 visit. (President Obama heads a party which nearly purged God from its platform.) More far-reaching is the Obama administration’s insistence that religious-affiliated institutions pay for contraception and sterilization, effectively forcing these institutions to violate their beliefs or be punished.
Secularist groups seek to purge any trappings of Christianity from public practice. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is pushing Obama not to use the Bible during his second inauguration. The American Humanist Association is pressuring new members of Congress not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
At times, the secular campaign against public religion takes ridiculous turns. The FFRF sought to remove a statue of Jesus on public property in Montana. But the suit faced dismissal because, as the Christian Post reported, the FFRF “had not found an individual or group that maintained they were harmed by the statue's presence.” (The FFRF eventually found an atheist who lived 15 minutes away from the statue to object to its presence, allowing the lawsuit to proceed.)
Perhaps these groups should read the section of the First Amendment concerning religion more closely. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The position of secularists appears to be that any religious symbol displayed or language spoken somehow constitutes an “establishment of religion.” The mere public mention of religion is apparently capable of scorching the sensitive ears of those who deny his existence.
But such a position certainly inhibits the free exercise of faith – assuming, of course, that faith is something more than an archaic ritual to be practiced every weekend and shelved on all other occasions. (Not that the words of the Constitution matter to the secular left.) But if any public mention of God is forbidden, documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address should be purged from the public record as well.
There is a “war on Christmas:” a war on any symbol that might make Christmas more than a confectionary slop of feel-goodness to be cast aside on December 26. And this war lasts the other 11 months of the year.
Paul Wilson is the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media for the Media Research Center.