Monday, October 24, 2005

Christ, Christmas, And The Constitution

I know it is about 62 days until Christmas. But, decorations are up in the stores. Yes, decorations 'for the house'. But, I have yet to see the real decorations, like Christmas trees and such up in stores. For years, they have decorated for Christmas way before Thanksgiving. Although I had rather see them wait until the day after Thanksgiving, that is too much to wish for, I suppose.

But, what kind of Christmas season can we expect? I heard today on the news that WalMart in Huntsville, Alabama will not have Christmas trees decorated in their stores this year. This might offend someone who doesn't believe in them. Another lady from Sevier County, Tennessee, told me today that their Christmas season is no longer Christmas, but 'Winterfest' - a beautiful display of lights, but there is nothing much pertaining to the real meaning of Christmas. Slowly but surely Christ is being taken out of the very season into which He was born.

John Gibson, from Fox News, has a book on his website that he wrote, called The War On Christmas. It is a book about how the very basic ideas of Christmas are being suppressed and who is working to keep religion out of this very sacred day.

Public officials have gone too far in keeping religious scenes off public property. Christmas has always been celebrated as a religious and secular holiday in America. But the officials have been lead to believe the falsehood that all signs of Christ or any religious items cannot be put up in public schools or any public venue. This has led some Christians to confine Christmas to church and home, not wanting to be inclusive of others. Even, in some places, you can't even say "Merry Christmas". It must be replaced with "Happy Holidays". These are unnecessary restrictions put on people. Even our Christmas cards have become nothing but secular cards. Someone complained last year about the inability to find a meaningful Christian card to send out.

What then does the Constitution really require of Christians at Christmas?
1) The Constitution continues to guarantee both freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. Therefore, public officials and school administrators may not censor the religious aspects of a national cultural holiday like Christmas. Private religious speech, such as saying "Merry Christmas," even in public or in public schools or workplaces, is protected speech.
2) Including a religious component to holiday displays and concerts in communities or in public schools does not violate the supposed "separation of church and state," a doctrine often cited by separationists as part of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In fact, in its most recent cases the United States Supreme Court has stated that the Establishment Clause requires neutrality, not prohibition. Instead of taking Christ out of Christmas, all the government is required to do is to practice neutrality. Therefore, a school or community may have seasonal decorations that include a crèche along with secular symbols of Christmas, such as snowmen, and symbols of other religious holidays, such as the Star of David or a Menorah. The nativity may not be banned while other seasonal decorations are permitted.

There have been extremists who have prohibited children having Christmas programs, singing Christmas carols in school plays, Santa, candy canes, and Christmas trees.

One woman summed it all up on Mom's View:
The intent of our forefathers was not "separation" of church and state. It was never their intent to EXCLUDE religion from the public arena. The REAL meaning of the constitution was for government to remain TOLERANT of religion regardless of what kind. That is precisely why we LEFT England- b/c there was no tolerance of any religion other than that which was state mandated. In my opinion, we have become a public which is the EXACT OPPOSITE- we are in fact INTOLERANT of any type of religion- especially Christianity- in the public arena, regardless of the fact that over 60% of our population consider themselves Christian. The further and further we move away from God, the more immoral and degraded we have become as a society. The attack on religion in this country is specifically aimed at the Christian faith. I have little "faith" that, even if other religions were given equal space, that Christianity would still be welcome in the public arena.

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