Saturday, December 6, 2008

The "War" on Christmas

Each year at this time, the contrived "War on Christmas" is brought up, usually by some pundit or by a religious group looking for fuel for their fire. This year Bill O'Reilly brought up the fact that an atheist group got a permit from the State of Washington to put up a sign that had negative connotations to Christians. The sign was put up near a nativity scene that had also been erected by permit. O'Reilly and his misguided fans took this act as part of the "war" being waged by government.

Of course the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. Most government agencies that have places for public forums have a permitting process in order to maintain some semblance of order. For many years agencies would set aside a first amendment area where people could express their opinions. Recent court rulings have basically said that designating areas is too restrictive.

Because we have freedom of speech, government agencies cannot restrict how people express themselves as long as no laws are broken. In the case of Washington State, it couldn't say no to the atheists or the Christians and it, of course, issued the permits. The fact that the two were together means nothing. Both groups are exercising their right to free speech.

If O'Reilly and his minions don't like it, then maybe they should try living in a country where free speech isn't allowed. I don't think it would be very long before they would be barking up a different tree. They would decide that atheists expressing opinions isn't so bad after all.

In addition to the pundits "outrage," which I might add doesn't hurt their ratings and the millions that they happily deposit in their bank accounts each year, there will always be groups or individuals that seek attention to their "cause." They do this by erecting some sort of illegal display. Their act almost always brings a law suit, which is, of course, what they want. The rest of the year they complain about high taxes, keeping quiet about the fact that their frivolous act cost their local government hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

I am always amused by these acts and the "war on Christmas." There is no "war." There are nativity scenes and other symbols of Christmas everywhere you look. Church's have live nativity scenes, fake nativity scene, stars, candles, lights, etc. Individuals do likewise as do commercial establishments. Even city and county governments put up lights and other decorations. However, governments should not endorse one religion or the other by placing religious displays on government land and should, "make no laws, respecting religion."

There is a fine line that must be maintained. There was a reason the founding fathers addressed the religious issue. They were much closer to the issue than we are today, although, if we look around the world, especially at some of our adversaries, we can plainly see the terrible results of the meshing of government and religion. In my next post I will address some of the issues that influenced the founding fathers' thinking and made it very clear to these men, that government and religion should not mix.


Doug B said...

You are so right: "There are nativity scenes and other symbols of Christmas everywhere you look." Which of course wouldn't be the case if a "war on Christmas" has been waged by our government over the years.

What seems clear to me is that many folks believe our government should wage war against the freedom of expression of those who are not Christians.

Also troubling to me is the fact that many people haven't thought about this issue very much and seem to equate unbelief with evil, and so go along with "war on Christmas" stance as a sort of default position.

Some people!

rainlillie said...

Great post. It's just another way for them to divide people. I also agree with all of Doug B's points.