First Liberty Briefing: It’s Okay to Celebrate Christmas on the Town Square

First Liberty Briefing: It’s Okay to Celebrate Christmas on the Town Square November 30, 2016


A New York town was at the center of an atheist’s demands to remove religious references from an annual Christmas event.

Thank you for joining us for the First Liberty Briefing, an exclusive podcast where host Jeremy Dys—also First Liberty Senior Counsel—provides an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.

Elaine Spaziano organized “Christmas on the Canal” for 17 years. It became a tradition for most of the residents of Spencerport, New York. But like every good Christmas story, there was a Grinch.

An atheist complained to city officials about the annual celebration because it included carols, tree lighting, a nativity scene and other festivities. In response, the town told Elaine to remove religious references and to secularize the event by changing “Christmas” to “holiday”, and getting rid of such displays as the nativity

Elaine refused and the town pulled its sponsorship, seemingly ending the annual tradition. But not unlike that Who’s down and Whoville, the community rose up in support of the event and provided the necessary funding to continue the annual celebration.

“Christmas on the Canal” continues to this day – though I don’t know if the town sponsors it.

Cities across the country need to understand that the law allows your town to sponsor such displays so long as the displays contain the right mixture of the sacred and the secular. Or, as the Supreme Court has said:

City sponsored Christmas displays are permissible under the Constitution so long as there is no endorsement of religious faith and the display is, as the Court noted, “simply a recognition of cultural diversity.”

So this Christmas, don’t let your town be a Scrooge. It’s okay to celebrate Christmas on the Town Square.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberties for all Americans, visit

First Liberty Institute is the largest organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans. Find out more here.

(This podcast is by First Liberty Briefing. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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