The baby Jesus was born under bleak circumstances. His parents laid him in a manger because they had no cradle and his birthing room was full of animals, but despite all of that the significance of Christmas was the hope that had entered the world in the form of the Christ-child.
It is certain that there are many people trying to steal Christmas. People who for whatever reason want to force the nativity out of town decorations, try to rename trees and sing generic holiday music, and tell parents not to bring red and green napkins and children not to pass out things with a religious message. But like that day so long ago, there is hope, because battles on behalf of Christmas are also being won.
The Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and defending religious freedom, the sanctity of life and traditional values through litigation, education and policy, is one group rescuing Christmas this year.
A Dodgeville, Wisconsin school that had planned to sing a generic winter song to the tune of “Silent Night” dropped the song, “Cold in the Night,” from its program and reinstated the carol on Dec. 14 after being inundated by calls and e-mails according to the Liberty Counsel. These changes had been demanded by the Liberty Counsel, which had sent letters to Ridgeway Elementary School officials that explained the constitutionality of traditional Christmas carols. Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel said, “We don’t change the names of any other federal holiday, nor do we change the words to songs commemorating these holidays. It is absurd to have children sing ‘Cold in the Night’ in place of ‘Silent Night’.”
In Wellington, Florida, the Liberty Counsel’s success led to the town council’s unanimous decision to place a nativity scene on public property where a Christmas tree and menorah are on display. In a similar decision, Ken Koenig got permission to put his nativity up in Neptune Beach/Atlantic Beach area after it was originally refused. His nativity will be in the park until Dec. 31 thanks to the Liberty Counsel’s intervention.
The NYC Environmental Protection Agency removed holiday trees and banned red and green décor, while allowing Hanukkah banners; so the Liberty Counsel sent a legal memo to the staff, who petitioned and the agency retreated from their position. Christmas decorations are allowed and an apology was issued to the employees.
Also successfully rescuing Christmas this year is the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance that also seeks to protect religious liberty, family values and the sanctity of life. ADF sent a letter explaining the law regarding Christmas activities in public schools to a suburban Chicago school that planned to sing, “We Wish You a Merry Holiday.” After the letter, the school changed their plan to include the real song—“We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” ADF attorney, David Hacker said, “We’re very happy that, after receiving our letter, the school decided to change its policy.”
An ADF attorney has also offered to defend the city of Raleigh, North Carolina against a potential lawsuit by the ACLU. According to the ADF Web site, the city council of Raleigh agreed on Dec. 6 to allow a group of citizens to put up a Christmas display in a public square. The ACLU has said they will sue the city, but a “private organization bringing a multicultural seasonal display that includes the words ‘Merry Christmas’ along with a nativity scene is completely constitutional,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson.
Through their national Christmas project, ADF lawyers have sent letters to over 10,000 schools to let them know what is considered constitutionally acceptable religious expression around Christmas.
These examples are only a few of the victories being won to save Christmas from the hands of secularists, tolerance-pushers and citizens who simply have not been educated about religious expression. But each is a glimmer of hope, just like the birth of the Christ-child was on the night so long ago. Merry Christmas.
Julia A. Seymour is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.