to Conquer the Religious Freedom 'Grinches'
anti-religion Grinches are out in full force this Christmas
season. In fact, Christmas has become a dirty word in
many areas of society as groups like the American Civil
Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation
of Church and State continue to instill their vision
of a Godless public square on our nation.
Staver, president and general counsel for the Orlando,
Fla.-based Liberty Council, is on the frontlines of
the religious freedom battlefield. He has reported on
just a few religious freedom outrages going on right
Wisconsin, for example, public school officials have
mandated that students must amend "religious"
words in Christmas carols they will sing during a concert.
The students have been prohibited from using words that
refer to "Jesus" or "God" and instead
must substitute "secular" words and phrases.
Michigan, public school officials recently separated
all "religious" books on the holidays (Hanukkah
and Christmas) and placed them in a separate room. These
books are now out of sight and out of reach of the students,
Mr. Staver said.
school administrators in Georgia have instructed employees
that they may not conduct any Christmas-related activities,
including reading from Christmas books or making Christmas
decorations. Even red and white candy canes have been
barred because of the religious story behind the origin
of the Christmas treat.
friends at the Citrus Heights, Calif.-based Pacific
Justice Institute reported that a high school in Fountain
Valley informed students that they could not wear clothing
expressing religious messages (such as "Jesus is
the Way"), even though Muslim students were permitted
to wear headscarves.
the folks at the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More
Law Center have brought a case against New York City
schools after officials barred Christmas displays while
simultaneously authorizing Jewish menorahs and the Islamic
star and crescent during their respective holidays.
Mat Staver announced that Liberty Counsel had launched
a nationwide campaign to prevent blatant religious discrimination
during the holidays. Liberty Counsel will bring lawsuits
against any governmental agency that discriminates against
the public displays of religious symbols or songs, and
has also announced that it will defend any governmental
entity that abides by the Constitution and allows the
equal expression of religion views.
could have his hands full because instances similar
to those above are taking place across the nation.
important for Americans to understand what is constitutional
in regard to public Christmas displays.
nativity scenes on public property are constitutional
as long as there is a secular symbol of the holiday
that appears as part of the display.
other words, says Mr. Staver, the government may publicly
display depictions of Mary, Joseph and Jesus if the
display includes a depiction of Santa Claus, for example.
addition, students in public schools may sing Christian
Christmas carols such as "Silent Night" or
"Away in the Manger" as long as they also
sing secular songs about Rudolph or Frosty.
the other hand, privately-sponsored nativity scenes
displayed by private citizens or groups are constitutional
and do not require any secular symbols.
Mr. Staver says that individual students may sing Christmas
carols relaying the message of Christ as part of an
overall presentation where other students are allowed
to sing secular carols. In addition, public schools
may not prohibit access to religious books such action
discriminates against the religious viewpoint of the
message contained in the books. And public employers
may not discriminate against staff workers by prohibiting
Counsel has a history of successfully defending religious
individuals against persecution and bullying by employers
and schools. Last year, the organization successfully
represented six Massachusetts high school students who
were suspended for distributing candy canes bearing
a message about the Christian origin of the candy. In
the case of Westfield High School L.I.F.E. Club v. City
of Westfield, 249 F. Supp.2d 98, 124 (D. Mass. 2003),
the court struck down the school policy, reinstated
the students, and required the school to pay almost
$30,000.00 in damages.
people want to outlaw Christmas and the message of Christ's
unspeakable gift of His only Son to mankind, but they
don't have legal grounds to enact their narrow and deceptive
course of action against those who publicly embrace
this wondrous story.
who face religious discrimination this Christmas season
should contact Mat Staver at Liberty Counsel. The organization
has an assembly of attorneys that practice law across
America, often without charge.
Counsel: 407-875-2100 or http://www.lc.org