Christmas Highlights the Precarious Nature of Religious Liberty

By: Robert E. Meyer

It seems that the Christmas season brings out the hostility of atheists and secularists, the way a full moon attracts howling predators.

I was stunned to discover that the results of a survey in my local newspaper showed that about two-thirds of people preferred a “Merry Christmas” greeting to “Happy Holidays.”

Some of this response probably comes from recent publicity garnered by retailers who forbade their employees from saying “Merry Christmas,” out of fear of offending someone (have you ever wondered why retailers never fear offending the nation’s majority who claim to be Christians?).

On a local basis, some of the surprising solidarity is also due to a religious liberty issue that occurred in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Mayor allowed the head of the city council to place, at his own expense, a nativity on the premises of City Hall. Other groups were invited to place there own symbols with it to maintain the “constitutionality” of the display, but when a Wiccan wreath that appeared with the nativity was vandalized, it wasn’t replaced. A Madison, Wisconsin based christian suppressionist organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed a lawsuit, even though the display was taken down the day after Christmas. The city has solicited the help of The Alliance Defense Fund for legal representation.

Would something like this have even been slightly controversial 30 or 40 years ago? Of course not, yet we still have the same First Amendment that we had then.

What has changed here, is how the First Amendment to our Constitution is understood. Look at the religious clauses, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibit the free exercise thereof.”

Because of a progression judicial meddling, we have come to believe that “Congress” is any person who serves in government at any level, and that “making a law respecting an establishment of religion” means any public acknowledgment of God is forbidden. The “free exercise of religion” has functionally been cut out of the Constitution altogether. A theater of the absurd in Orwellian vintage!

I think people, even those not overtly religious, are waking up to this perpetual knee-jerk tyranny from disgruntled interlopers. Being perpetually offended is the key that unlocks the door to wielding coercive power and gaining unjust enrichment.

We used to say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The current motto for the secular, politically correct Gestapo is, “When in Rome, force the Romans to do as you would do.”

I often joke that someday secularists will complain, “How can you say your religious liberties have eroded away, when we still allow you to attend your house of worship each week, and permit you to pray in your closet?” Today, on an Internet forum, someone actually seriously suggested at that very idea of “religious freedom”. I pointed out to them that religious liberty (and not the right to be free of the offense of religion) is guaranteed by our Constitution’s First Amendment as a public right. The same amendment guarantees free speech. Does ”free speech” mean the right to say what I want as long as it is only in my living room?

I find it astounding that many of the same people who claim to find little or no evidence of declining religious liberty (namely the attack to secularize the celebration of Christmas), need very little proof to be convinced about the criminal deeds of the current president. People fail to see that the growing hostility toward public religious expression creates a cultural milieu oppressive toward religious identification in general.

The recent screeds by the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and lesser lights, has got to be a convincing testimony that militant atheism has migrated from the ivory towers of academia, to the courts of the mainstream know-it-all.

These people don’t respectfully disagree; they belittle, mock and impugn with irreverent tastelessness. They are armed with a host of disturbing canards about Christianity, and are expert purveyors of their revised versions of history.

Such people must be confronted in their attempts to secularize the whole of society. Turning the other creek is a blessed personal virtue that mitigates the escalation of insults. Allowing society to be overrun by boorish marauders is another matter.

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Robert E. Meyer is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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