Secularists Still Trying to Bully Christmas from the Public Square

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As Christmas 2013 draws near, the holiday that should be a unifying event for most Americans is instead being used, in many quarters, to heighten the growing conflict between Christians and the popular culture in our country.

And, despite news stories you might have seen in which various Christian leaders try to downplay that conflict, the truth remains that any effort to bring out the real meaning of the season in the public square – and in particular, in our public schools – is being met with legal intimidation from those who most aggressively reject the Baby in the manger … and His message.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, for instance, both sent threatening letters to public school officials in Kalispell and Whitefish, Montana, to prevent choir members from the two cities’ local high schools from performing – voluntarily – in a community Christmas festival held at a church. To their great credit, officials in both cities elected to ignore the warning.

“Every federal court to examine the issue has determined that including Christmas carols in school choir performances fully complies with the First Amendment,” wrote Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys in a letter applauding the schools’ decision.

The students’ voluntary performances – at a church or elsewhere – do not promote religion, but allow the youngsters “to serve the wider community with their talents, see and learn from other choirs’ techniques, and gain valuable performance experience in front of a large audience.” The letter also affirmed the willingness of our attorneys to freely assist the schools should the two secular groups choose to act on their legal threats.

“Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow choirs to participate in community Christmas events,” says Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “Courts have unanimously allowed students to sing Christmas carols at school. Nothing changes when they sing the same Christmas songs at a community festival instead.”

Alliance Defending Freedom offered officials at East Point Academy in West Columbia, South Carolina, the same kind of support after an atheist group, the American Humanist Association, threatened to sue them for allowing students to voluntarily participate in Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a community service Christmas project. OCC is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that has provided gifts to more than 100 million impoverished youngsters in over 130 countries, through cooperative efforts with local churches and ministry partners. It’s just one of a variety of humanitarian community service programs East Point offers.

“There is nothing illegal about a public school providing students an opportunity to put together a box of gifts for impoverished children throughout the world just because the toy drive is sponsored by a religious organization,” our letter to the school explains. The academy “has taken no actions that promote any religious aspect of OCC. It simply offers OCC as an optional opportunity for students to engage in humanitarian aid to needy children.”

“Public schools should provide students with as many community service opportunities as possible and not engage in unconstitutional discrimination,” says Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The American Humanist Association is incorrect that neutrality toward religion requires schools to discriminate against beneficial programs simply because they are run by Christians. That is not neutrality but targeted religious discrimination forbidden by the First Amendment.”

Please be in prayer for our ministry attorneys, and our allied attorneys, as they respond to these and similar threats all over the country. In many quarters, the “war on Christmas” still goes on, as secular groups move to shut, and keep shut, the door that would open the Gospel to so many of our family, friends, and neighbors nationwide.

May the spirit of Christ, as well as Christmas, grace our efforts as we defend your freedom to live out your faith every day.

Author: Alan Sears