Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Neutering Christmas

Recently a story ran about a non-religious group who took offense of a banner that ran across a street in Pitman, NJ.  The offending banner stated simply, 'Keep Christ in Christmas'.

Four simple words about a holiday that is celebrated by more than a billion people worldwide caused a group based in Madison, Wisconsin to send a letter demanding the mayor of the city to take the sign down.

“Our purpose is to protect the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of state and church.  The government cannot in any way promote, advance, or otherwise endorse religion. The Christ banner unmistakably endorses the Christian faith.”

Time could be spent explaining to this group that 'separation of church and state' is not a constitutional principle, but a quote from Thomas Jefferson that has been used to back up religious discrimination like this, but it is doubtful that this group would be receptive.  In fact, their response was to continue to discriminate, harass, and defame Christians specifically and God fearing people in general by creating their own banner -

“There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell ... Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The above is considered civil and intelligent, while reminding believers to keep Christ in Christmas is hateful and State promotion of religion.

It is truly amazing to see the change that is wrought in our society by an overly sensitive culture.  Where once their was civility and respect, there is now enmity and outright hatred exhibited by our fellow men.  People with opposing views on religion will no longer willingly seek out common ground.

The neutering of Christmas has been going on for a very long time, and it continues today.  Corporations large and small no longer have Christmas parties, simply Winter/Holiday parties.  This happens despite the fact that you are having a party in December around Christmas and likely have for a long time simply because Christmas is in December.

Perhaps if those who do not believe in Jesus Christ used some of His teachings in their lives, we might come to a place of mutual respect at last.  Until then, offense will be taken when no offense is intended, and we will further distance ourselves from the reason for the season... Hope, Peace, and Good Will Toward Men.


  1. Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of "We the people" (not a deity), (2) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day, the founders' avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. The basic principle, thus, rests on much more than just the First Amendment.

    While it is well recognized that the First Amendment limited only the federal government, the Constitution was later amended to protect from infringement by states and their political subdivisions the privileges and immunities of citizenship, due process, and equal protection of the laws. The courts naturally have looked to the Bill of Rights for the important rights thus protected by the 14th Amendment and have ruled that it effectively extends the First Amendment’s guarantees vis a vis the federal government to the states and their subdivisions. While the founders drafted the First Amendment to constrain the federal government, they certainly understood that later amendments could extend the Bill of Rights' constraints to state and local governments.

  2. You do have a point. I do believe the founders had in mind a separation of religion and the State. I disagree, however, that the separation precludes people who believe in one religion or another the right to the free exercise and expression of that religion.

    The founders intent was prohibit the creation of a Monarchy, or Theocracy. They wanted to make sure that the freedom to believe or disbelieve was protected.

    What we have now are groups of people who take offense at expression and basically throw the original intent out the window. Where the rights of the minority or even the majority are infringed upon, we must step in. The rights of free expression are, in this case anyway, being infringed upon by a group who is offended when no offense was intended.

    It is on shakey ground we find ourselves when we claim that a sign posted as a reminder to Christians violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

  3. It is important to distinguish between the "public square" and "government" and between "individual" and "government" speech about religion. The constitutional principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square--far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views--publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment's constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in any particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    A word should be added about the commonly heard idea that this is all about people easily offended or majority and minority rights. We’re not talking about the freedom of individuals to say or do something others find offensive; we have that freedom. We’re talking about the government weighing in to promote religion. Under our Constitution, our government has no business doing that--regardless of whether anyone is offended and regardless of how many like or dislike any particular religion. While this is primarily a constitutional point, it is one that conservatives--small government conservatives--should appreciate from a political standpoint as well. While the First Amendment thus constrains government from promoting (or opposing) religion without regard to whether anyone is offended, a court may address the issue only in a suit by someone with "standing" (sufficient personal stake in a matter) to bring suit; in order to show such standing, a litigant may allege he is offended or otherwise harmed by the government's failure to follow the law; the question whether someone has standing to sue is entirely separate from the question whether the government has violated the Constitution.

  4. There can never be separation of church and State if all our legal tender is imprinted with "In God we Trust" and our Presidents end their speeches with "God bless America".

    People are so easily fooled.

    •• dbdoinit