Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013


 _ _ _ _ _ _MAS!

Notice anything missing?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they're at it again.  The secular Progressives, determined to eliminate any reference to religion in the public square have resumed their annual event, the "War on Christmas", claiming that any public celebration of the holiday should be curtailed out of "respect" for those who don't hold the same religious beliefs.  They're oddly silent on the subject of respect for those who hold traditional Christian beliefs and their right to celebrate a traditional Christian holiday.

This year, an atheist group, the so-called Freedom From Religion foundation erected a billboard in New York City proclaiming, "Who Needs Christ During Christmas? Nobody!"  Seriously?  Without Christ, you simply have "-mas".  Everyday New Yorker's disagree with the sentiment expressed.
The board of an elementary school on Long Island, NY decided they needed to avoid hurting anyone's feelings who isn't Christian during their annual holiday concert.  To that end, they creatively edited the Christmas Carol, pardon me, Holiday Song selected for the children to sing in the production (it was Silent Night) to omit any and all references to Jesus, Christ our Savior, the virgin birth, & holy infant.  Surprisingly, even on liberal Long Island this didn't go over well.  Apparently, the parents were not aware of the editing of the carol and voiced their displeasure to the school board that they would dare tinker with a traditional holiday theme.  The board defended their decision on the grounds of not wanting to offend any non-Christians in the audience.  I guess it's OK in their view to offend Christians who might not appreciate the elimination of nearly all religious references from what is, after all, a Christian hymn. 
They've promised not to do it again.
And, in Vancouver, Washington two young girls were booted from the property of their local WinCo grocery store for caroling.  The girls' intention was to “give a warm fuzzy feeling to anyone who walked by".  However, a store employee booted them from the property allegedly because their holiday jingles might offend patrons who don't celebrate Christmas, despite the fact that the girls sang both traditional religious and secular songs like Jingle Bell Rock and Silent Night.  When one of the girl's mother contacted the local news outlet, KATU-TV, to report the incident a reporter was sent out to cover the story.
For the follow-up, the reporter accompanied the girls back to the store to see if maybe the whole thing was a simple misunderstanding.  The reporter was given the name and phone number of an attorney for the store.  When contacted, the attorney in the end stated that the girls would likely be allowed to return to the store to resume singing Christmas carols to the customers.
Every year, it seems, there is some individual or group determined to prevent any public celebration of the Christmas holiday.  Well, there will be none of that "Happy Holidays" PC here.  The holidays are Christmas and Hanukkah. (I don't want to hear anything about "Kwanzaa").

We aren't celebrating the equinox (when was the last time anyone sent you a "Happy Equinox" card?).  We are celebrating one of two religious traditions.  The most widespread in the U.S. is, of course, Christmas.  Whether you observe the holiday for it's religious significance or not, the "reason for the season" is the birth of Jesus Christ.

In fact, the tradition of giving gifts is a direct reflection of the story of the three kings (the three wise men) who traveled to see the Christ-child bearing valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  When we exchange gifts, whether we know it or not, it's in remembrance of gifts of the magi.

I've never understood the hostility of the atheistic, secular left to the traditional celebration of Christmas.  What harm is it to them if there's a Menorah, or a Nativity Scene, or a Christmas tree in the town square?  What do these groups gain out of lodging lawsuits against towns for their Christmas displays?  What harm is done them if there is a production of a Christmas play at the local school or (heaven forbid) church?  If an individual parent has objections to the content of the Christmas play, they are free to keep their child at home.

If they don't agree with the religious significance of the holiday, fine.  They are under no obligation to say "Merry Christmas" to anyone.  It would be nice, though, if they could somehow muster up the common courtesy to reply to someone else's Christmas wishes with a simple "Thank you".  They do not have the right to force others in their town or city to not celebrate the holiday as they wish, because they feel somehow offended at being "left out".

They will trot out the canard that the setting up of a Christmas display on "public property" somehow violates "The Separation of Church and State".  Problem is, it doesn't.  There is no such clause in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America.  The First Amendment reads, in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". [Emphasis added]  In short, there is no basis in law for allowing one group of people to prohibit others from celebrating Christmas (or any other religious holiday) in any way, even on town, city, municipal, or even state and federal property!

The colonists separated from the rule of England partly  because of the demand of the King that they all celebrate the State's religion ONLY, and only in the manner prescribed.  They wished to be allowed the freedom to worship God as they saw Him and in the manner they deemed appropriate.  With that history behind them, the founders went out of their way to provide for that freedom when they set up the governing documents of the new country.  What they did not intend, was that some future religious observance could be derailed and prohibited over the manufactured outrage and complaints of a handful of malcontents, or in some cases, only one.

There is a very large gap between the town allowing a Christmas display with the baby Jesus and the wise men, or a cross or menorah or any religious symbol relating to the holiday, and the State's Establishment of an Official Religion and imposing it on the people.  No one is going to descend on an atheist or agnostic household and frog march them into the church of their choice to observe Christmas services.

Americans have the Constitutional right to our celebration of Christmas.  Progressives, atheists, and others  who demand that such displays be removed and prohibited from the public spaces have absolutely no right to demand that we conduct our lives to accommodate their personal prejudices.

I would like to take this  moment to wish all of my rational readers and their families the merriest of Christmas's, a Happy Hanukkah, and the most joyous and prosperous New Year!

To the secularists and progressives who seem to be determined to ruin our traditional holiday celebrations and erase any mention of religion (except, perhaps, Islam.  Can't offend them, can we?) from the public lives of Americans I can only say one thing.............................................................................


[Publisher's note: As I can reliably expect similar events to play out in the ensuing years, this post will probably become something of a tradition on this blog.  At least until the Progressives agree to allow others the same "1st Amendment rights" they demand for themselves.]


  1. The date for celebrating Christmas actually has very little to do with the actual date of the birth of Jesus, which most scholars agree was not December 25th. One site,, states it was likely the end of September. The December 25th date was chosen some 300+ years after the death of Jesus as the date to celebrate his birth because it was already a widely celebrated pagan holiday and the early church selected the date in an effort to co-opt the existing festivities to bring more people into the new religion.

    Having said that, a famous atheist had this to say when asked if atheists could rationally celebrate Christmas:

    Yes, of course. A national holiday, in this country, cannot have an exclusively religious meaning. The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion.

    The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: “Merry Christmas”—not “Weep and Repent.” And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance . . . .

    The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . . stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only “commercial greed” could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.

    As you might have guessed, the atheist was Ayn Rand who gave this answer in The Objectivist Calendar, December 1976, and quoted here from

    So with that I too will wish you a Merry Christmas!

    1. I referenced the historical argument over the date in the original post last year. In this update, I merely attempted to illustrate the irrationality of the secular, Progressive movement to abolish any mention of the religious side of the holiday. I don't know as I'd agree completely that the commercial side of Christmas is the "best" aspect. The good will isn't always expressed in a "material, earthly form." I do agree with the statement that you would have to be terribly depressed (or deranged) not to enjoy the many displays of the season.

      That said, I don't think that Ms. Rand, or any of the members of the ARI would endorse the actions of the modern day secularists to forcibly remove and prevent traditional Christmas celebrations, decorations and displays. I think they would simply decide, for themselves, not to attend. Anything else would be about as rational as a Jew throwing a fit over a mall Santa or a Nativity Scene depicting the baby Jesus as the Messiah (which they don't believe) or a Christian demanding that all stores shut down for Christmas and everyone attend Midnight Mass.

      And a very Merry Christmas to you, as well.

  2. 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 first place, the Supreme Court has thoughtfully, authoritatively, and repeatedly decided as much; it is long since established law. In the second place, the Court is right. 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) according that government limited, enumerated powers, (3) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (4) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (5), 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 (by which governments generally were grounded in some appeal to god(s)), 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 affirmatively 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.

    That the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the text of the Constitution assumes much importance, it seems, to some who mistakenly supposed they were there and, upon learning of their error, fancy they’ve solved a Constitutional mystery. To those familiar with the Constitution, the absence of the metaphorical phrase commonly used to name one of its principles is no more consequential than the absence of other phrases (e.g., Bill of Rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, fair trial, religious liberty) used to describe other undoubted Constitutional principles.

    To the extent that some nonetheless would like confirmation--in those very words--of the founders' intent to separate government and religion, Madison and Jefferson supplied it. Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). Indeed, he understood the original Constitution--without the First Amendment--to separate religion and government. He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are proclaimed, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

  3. 2. It is important to distinguish 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., city officials displaying monuments), 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.

    With respect to symbols and such, generally, if a monument is displayed “by” a government on its land, then that likely will be regarded as “government speech” to be assessed for compliance with the establishment clause. If a monument is displayed by a private person or group on government land, it may well be regarded as “individual speech” to be evaluated under the free exercise clause. In the latter case, the government, of course, cannot discriminate against particular religions and thus generally must allow other persons or groups equal opportunity to express their religious views on the government land. In sorting this out, much depends on the details of each case.

    1. Hi, Doug. Thank you for your well thought out reply. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, I've been busy with the Christmas holiday.

      While, technically, you have made some valid points I'm afraid you missed the theme of my post, which was the irrationality of requiring that the majority of citizens accede to the demands of an irrational (though very vocal) minority.

      There is nothing in law or practical social relations that allows any individual or group of individuals to prevent another from exercising their individual rights. While the Christmas holiday is a recognized federal holiday, it's origins and tradition predate that by many, many years. The recognition of the season by government by no means equates to an official endorsement of one religious practice over another. Far from being "government speech", it's a recognition of the American tradition of Christmas. Nothing more.

      The anti-religion folks always trot out the "separation of church and state" when they seek to prevent any community's traditional display. The whole thrust of this post was to illustrate the fact that they have no such right to avoid public displays of religion, especially during the Christmas season.

      I hope you had a great Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year!

    2. Lawrence,

      I didn’t so much miss the theme of your post as point out that viewing government displays of religious monuments as majority-minority issues is off target. We’re not talking about the freedom of individuals to say or do something others find offensive or wrongheaded; each of us has that freedom. Moreover, in making government policy decisions in a republic, the majority naturally should hold sway over the minority. We’re talking about something different here—i.e., the government weighing in to promote religion. Under our Constitution, our government has no business doing that--REGARDLESS of whether a majority approves or disapproves. While this is primarily a constitutional point, it is one that conservatives--small government conservatives--should appreciate from a political standpoint as well.

      With respect to the Christmas tradition and governments’ recognition of it, David Frum wrote an interesting article observing that the history at least in some measure is different than you may suppose. I commend it to you.

      Thank you for the well wishes. Yes, I much enjoyed a relaxing Christmas, and hope you did too.