Will we allow extremist Grinches to steal Christmas?

The spirit of Christmas

December 25, 2003|By Kevin Cardin

CHRISTMAS DAY is still slated to arrive on schedule, but Santa Claus may not be coming to your town. As the holiday mobilized into full swing, so did the war between the traditionalists and secularists - or the battle of Christmas and the two Clauses.

Our Constitution, having been crafted largely on the basis of Judeo-Christian philosophy, has for better or worse inseparably linked the country's inception with certain aspects of religious heritage and values.

But today there is tremendous controversy over what place, if any, that religious tradition should have in a secular society. Consequently, Christmas has come under intense fire from a fringe minority determined to undermine its significance. Under the guise of being all-inclusive, politically correct activists are intent on eliminating this American staple from modern culture.

Ebenezer Scrooge himself would be proud of the way this extremist movement is systematically stripping the country of its identity and core beliefs, with Christmas high atop the to-do-away-with list. Every year, the number of schools pressured into excluding Christmas activities continues to grow, and this year even includes the school system of New York City, the nation's largest.

That same political pressure has been exerted against much of corporate America, securing concessions from quite a few companies to substitute the phrase "Merry Christmas" with an inoffensive replacement such as "Happy Holidays." This once-great holiday, rich with tradition and meaning, is being reduced to a winter festival and a snowman lapel pin.

But the assault on Christmas is merely a battle in the larger war against religion, and the First Amendment's Establishment Clause is the favorite rallying cry for doing away with religion in the public domain. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union are always ready to provide feverish courtroom opposition against town or city displays that feature the Nativity, the Ten Commandments or any mention of God, aiming to remove them from all public and government property.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore recently learned this lesson the hard way and was ultimately removed from office for refusing a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from Alabama's judicial building.

Now while the Establishment Clause does prohibit government from endorsing or promoting a particular religion, by no means does it forbid the government from recognizing or mentioning it. Yet Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU and similar organizations see things another way and are determined to subvert even the historical significance of Christianity unless it is taught in conjunction with all major religions. Their agenda intentionally overlooks the fact that Judeo-Christian principles were the basis for our system of laws as well as a strong influence on early social patterns and behaviors.

Even the Pledge of Allegiance has been under attack and ruled unconstitutional when recited in school classrooms after a lawsuit managed to successfully argue it was offensive to the daughter of an atheist. Only after the ruling was it learned that the daughter of plaintiff and atheist Michael Newdow was in fact a practicing Christian who had always opposed the lawsuit, which demonstrates the brash tactics to which these activists will resort to legislatively impose their views on the broader public.

This type of agenda, and the activists employing it, are moving the nation closer to an unrecognizable shadow of its former self. Conceivably, this country could end up with a calendar stripped of every major holiday in a society void of its own history and traditions - our system of beliefs, values and principles having been discarded with Santa alongside a forgotten road once known as the American way.

Kevin Cardin lives in New Bedford, Mass.

Columnist Clarence Page is on vacation.

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