By Ralph Reed
James Madison once observed that mankind is inclined to disagreement, and even “the most fanciful and frivolous distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions.” Take the perennial conflict over public observances of the Christmas holiday, which pit radical secularists against Christians and those who support religious liberty. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, 68 percent of Americans prefer to hear someone wish them a “Merry Christmas.” Yet a war on Christmas still rages, as what Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter once called the “culture of disbelief” seeks to snuff out public expressions of faith in God.
Like modern-day Grinches seeking to steal Christmas, bureaucrats and judges regularly step in to silence even the most benign holiday celebrations. In Arkansas, a local school district initially deemed a community theater group’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” an inappropriate play for students to be exposed to on a voluntary field trip. In California, a seniors apartment complex banned the display of a Christmas tree in its building despite a public outcry from the tenants. Also in the Golden State, the city of Santa Monica cancelled a decades-old tradition of allowing nativity scenes to be displayed in December after it was hijacked by atheists who put up protest displays. Atheists in Illinois, upset over the traditional display of a cross during the Christmas season, have successfully squelched the custom this year. Threatened with expensive lawsuits, a school in Hawaii has canceled its annual Christmas charity concert.
In every case, otherwise benign Christmas traditions have been banned because of the pleadings of a few who claimed they were offended, as if the Constitution guarantees that no citizen will ever experience offense. In truth, by enshrining freedom of speech (including speech of a religious context) in the First Amendment, the founders guaranteed we would be offended regularly by the publicly expressed views of others. It’s called liberty.
to read the rest of the article.