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War on Christmas?

Catholic League president Bill Donohue is once again hot under the collar about the War on Christmas. In short, he’s annoyed at the consequences of living in a country governed by a secular Constitution.

Last year he lamented:

A school counselor at an Arkansas elementary school has been told that she must remove her posting of a nativity scene on her billboard; her decoration was permitted for more than 20 years. Tulsa, Oklahoma has long had a Christmas parade, but this year it was renamed the Holiday parade.

So your religious claims are so flabby that you need the government to help support them? Aren’t parents and churches and the plain truth of your message enough? And why mention the 20 years—do wrong things stop being wrong once they’re traditions?

Let’s switch things around a bit to make sure we’re being consistent. What if a school employee had been told to remove displays of a Wiccan celebration for Samhain or a Satanic celebration for the winter solstice? Or if city money had been prevented from funding celebrations of the Hindu festivals of Holi or Diwali?

Public schools and publicly funded celebrations must be religion-neutral, which sounds like a good arrangement for Christians, atheists, and everyone else.

In another article, Donohue says:

There are two ways government can practice neutrality: the tolerant way, which is to allow all world religions a limited period of time to display their wares in the public square; and the intolerant way, favored by liberals, which is to censor everyone. We vote for the former.

I can accept that, but then you have cases like Santa Monica, in which spots for displays in a public park were distributed by lottery in 2011. Atheist organizations won 18 out of 21 spots, and some Christians were up in arms. Sometimes when you play the “allow all religions time to display their wares” game, it backfires.

Here’s a simple solution: avoid using public land or buildings for religious displays. They already have plenty of tax-supported publicity. Easy, right?

Donohue fulminates anew against more insults to Christianity in this year’s broadside:

Students at an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas were recently invited to see the play, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” at a local church. … A ruckus ensued when one atheist complained. …

For several decades, the Illinois village of Alsip has erected a cross on its water tower, but this year it will not be displayed

Bill, why is this hard? Keep telling me about breaches of the First Amendment in your annual dispatches from the front lines of the War on Christmas, and I’ll keep rooting for the Constitution. No, the atheist groups supporting the separation of church and state aren’t Grinches; they’re trying to protect your rights.

After last year’s fuss, Santa Monica decided to not have any holiday displays. Peace on earth? No, Mr. Donohue was as cranky as Ebenezer Scrooge:

Today’s atheists have no identity save for what they are against. What else but malice would drive atheists to display their hate-filled message alongside religious symbols in Santa Monica last year?

When the atheists got their displays trashed, I’m not sure the malice was coming from the atheists. And why the rage—are churches off limits for religious displays? Are they illegal on private property? I’m missing the problem.

It’s time for Pat Robertson’s insightful seasonal message as well. His analysis:

Atheists don’t like our happiness. They don’t want you to be happy; they want you to be miserable. They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable.

(Okay—who leaked the Atheist Master Plan?!)

Bill O’Reilly won’t be outdone, and he called David Silverman’s American Atheists a “merry band of fascists” and pretended that Christianity isn’t a religion but a philosophy. It was a bumbling attempt at bypassing the First Amendment’s prohibition against an “establishment of religion” that I doubt many Christians would agree that worshipping the Creator of the Universe is a philosophy.

These self-appointed nursemaids of the public good seem to imagine that religions don’t have the opportunity to spread the word or that their existence is a mystery to people. Or perhaps they fear that Christians’ faith is so fragile that it must be propped up with frequent reminders.

Either these blowhards are out of touch with reality or they don’t trust that Christianity’s message is convincing. Neither casts them in a good light.

’Twas the night before Christmas; the Christians all hunkered
In basements of buildings they’d armored and bunkered.
They huddled in silence; they huddled in fear,
With thoughts that the atheists soon would draw near.
(read the rest at Digital Cuttlefish)

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker

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