The War on Christmas
There has been a series of books documenting the antichristian agenda of the secular progressives in the US, often using the cover of the so-called “separation of church and state” in order to enforce censorship and suppression. The intrinsic intolerance of atheism was a topic discussed by Alister McGrath in his stunning “The Twilight of Atheism,” and is nowhere better displayed than in the growing intolerance for religious expression in the public square. There is an open war, declared by the secularists, on the acceptibility of religious thought in public discourse. While they wrap themselves in the flags of “inclusiveness” and “tolerance,” they in fact demonstrate profound exclusiveness — by refusing to acknowledge *any* faith, they denigrate all faith; by refusing to allow religious expression, they exhibit intolerance greater than any they pretend to oppose.
The greatest battleground is, of course, the schools, where students are taught to be ashamed of their faith by aggressive secularists, supported by the ACLU. The examples are frighteningly common, but three come immediately to mind. The first two are from David Limbaugh’s “Persecution.”
Following the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, school officials gave students and their families an opportunity to paint tiles with images and words above student lockers. But the administrators were apparently surprised that some families chose to mourn the dead with Christian symbols and verses. They removed some ninety of the 2100 painted tiles because they contained “objectionable” phrases like “God is Love” and “4/20/99 Jesus Wept.” The parents of two slain students, Daniel Rohrbough and Kelly Fleming [were among those censored by secularists]…”
[A teacher at a Houston middle school shouted] “This is garbage,” as she threw two students’ Truth for Youth Bibles in a trash can. …[T]he two sisters were carrying Bibles when they walked into their classroom one morning, where their teacher met them at the classroom door. She noticed the Bibles and promptly escorted the students to the principal’s office. She then paged the girls’ mothers and threatened to call child protective services because Bibles were not allowed on school property. One of the girls became hysterical at the teacher’s bizarre behavior. When the mother arrived, the teacher waved the Bibles at her and exclaimed, “This is garbage,” then threw them into the trash can. She said the girls could not bring Bibles to school. In a separate but similar incident at the same school, officials confronted three students whose books had the Ten Commandments displayed on the covers. They threw the covers in the garbage, claiming the Ten Commandments were hate speech that might offend other students…
And, finally, from Gibson’s book, where Kelly Shackleford describes a case the Liberty Legal Institute got involved in:
These are young kids. They’re in the third grade or fourth grade or fifth grade. And the lesson they learn is that there are words you can’t say. You can’t say these curse words, and then you can’t say your religion. You can’t talk about your religion. And it’s a very powerful message.
We had a case where the kids could draw a tracing of their foot, then put a message on the drawing of their foot, and then put it up on the board in class. And all these kids had all these very innocuous messages, “Jenny loves Johnny” and “Peace” and such. A girl very innocently wrote “Jesus Loves Me.” And the teacher ripped it down, and said to her “Don’t you ever do this again.” The girl went home crying and wondering what she’d done wrong.
[After being confronted and threatened with legal action by a religious rights organization the school backed off and allowed the girl to make another drawing] She redrew her foot. And instead of writing “Jesus Loves Me” in the innocent and pure way she did before, she put up a tiny little cross up in the very top corner that you could just barely see.
And I thought, “There’s the picture of what happens inside to these little kids.” She’s learned the lesson. Don’t be open about your faith. Don’t be honest about your faith. Hide it. You can still be whoever you are as long as you hide it. They taught her self-oppression and self-censorship through this hysterical reaction to her. The robbed her of that innocence and of that purity of being open about her faith.
That is what the ACLU and the rest of the secular antichristians want to insitutionalize. And that is what Christians are beginning to react to.
Christmas, as one of the greatest holy days of Christianity is, of course, one of the greatest targets of this bigotry, hatred, and suppression. Gibson gives a number of the more egregious examples — where the very colors green and red were banned from one school, where all Christmas carols were banned (including instrumental pieces on the grounds that somone might be offended by the tune), where students were monitored to make sure that none of the presents they gave to each other contained anything remotely referring to the Christ, where literature such as Dickens’ Christmas Carol is banned. He provides examples where this assault is directed preferentially at Christians; cases where Jewish, Islamic, and Kwanzaa symbols and rituals are celebrated, but equivalent Christian expression is banned. He notes the amazing hypocrisy of the secularists who find any criticism of *other* expression horrible, but welcome any and all censorship of religious expression. The Cross is welcome only if it is dipped in urine or smeared with feces — any taking of offense to these is to be ignored — but never if viewed with reverence. If viewed in a positive light, then it is, by definition “offensive” and must be banned.
Gibson notes and documents the standard tactics of those who attempt such bans — the ACLU’s use of the offended individual to force censorship and ban expression, and actions of the ACLU, People for the American Way, etc. to enforce censorship that they know is unconstitutional. In particular, he documents examples of the ACLU threatening expensive lawsuits to force censorship in cases they know they would lose, but in which the school district is afraid of the cost of litigation. Outside of the realm of religious censorship, this is called a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) — though the term is not invoked by Gibson. It is a method used by large corporations to squash speech by threatening dissenters with expensive lawsuits. When used by corporations against speech, it is both unethical and illegal. When used by the ACLU to enforce religious censorship, it applauded by the secular left.
Finally, Gibson notes some of the legal resources of Christians who are faced with this kind of oppression. For many years, small governments and school districts were completely at the mercy of SLAPP tactics, and Christian families were unaware of their constitutional rights. A number of religious freedom organizations have risen to oppose SLAPP t.actics by the ACLU and similar organizations, and every Christian should be aware of these resources when attempts are made to censor them.
The basic question is whether or not people should be free to express their religious beliefs without shame, or whether we should be forced to hide and deny our beliefs in the face of atheistic repression. It’s not easy, as any of us who has faced such attempts at censorship can attest. Christians are now like smokers — it’s OK to hate them as far as the secular left is concerned. And any objection to the kinds of tactics mentioned at the beginning of this post is countered with denial and cries of “lunacy” and “whining.”
A good example is found in the post of one of the blogs on my blogroll, where Gibson’s book is ridiculed — but not read of course. Had the writer bothered to read this book or Limbaugh’s Persecution, she might not be so quick to dismiss it out of hand. But one of the greatest weapons of secularists is this kind of dissembling — it doesn’t matter what happens, it will be denied. The *last* thing that such people will do is read what they dismiss with such contempt. They do not argue the fact, but instead their stereotyped projections. Gibson doesn’t like the denial of Christmas? Then he is engaging in “paranoid lunacy.” Tell that to the children who have their Bibles thrown in the trash, who have their basic beliefs publicly ridiculed by teachers as “hate speech,” and who have monitors threatening to punish them for even silent prayer. Who could object to that? Not the “tolerant” secular left, of course. They are too busy telling Christians that Christmas really has nothing to do with Christ.
Gibson’s position is that inclusiveness means acknowledging the religious expression of all the faiths represented by the citizenry, not *supressing* all expression. There is nothing wrong with wishing a Happy Hannukah to a Jew and a Merry Christmas to a Christian and a Happy Kwanzaa to celebrants of it. When I lived in DC, I lived in a community containing a very large Jewish population. Most of my neighbors were Jewish. Did that mean that I didn’t celebrate Easter or Christmas for fear of “offending” them? Did it mean that they did not celebrate Passover for fear of “offending” me? Quite the opposite. My neighbors shared my joy, and I shared theirs — to the point of celebrating Passover Seder with them (though you could easily tell who was and who was not Christian by the decorations). *That* is inclusiveness. *That* is tolerance — not the secular atheistic view of suppressing expression and banning speech.
Gibson’s book is structured as a number of case studies, one per chapter, followed by a discussion of resources for those being censored and a final conclusion section tying the attack on Christmas with the more general attacks on religious expression. It is not as well documented as Limbaugh’s Persecution, and would benefit from an index, but is an easier read and more focused. Those who want to pretend that this isn’t happening would be well served by reading this book and Limbaugh’s Persecution before opining about it. Simple denial is no longer enough. Christians who are open about their faith have likely already faced this kind of thing, but may not be aware of how pervasive it is, or of the resources that are available when they are (inevitably) attacked.