Virtually every year at this time, an issue over Christmas displays on public property, or some related church and state issue pops up. I call discussion of this topic, “The Christmas Cacophony Carefully Considered.”
What always strikes me as unique, is that the voices in the media and in editorial land, which criticize public officials for allowing Christmas displays tend to be numerous and monolithic--the voices that criticize the organizations filing lawsuits protesting the practices are few, if any. Strangely enough, there is no pejorative discussion about the boorish and ill-spirited attitudes displayed by the organizations or individuals engaging in such legal proceedings--no call for them to “mind their own business in their own backyard.”
This is in spite of the fact that people approving of religious displays are not staking any new ground in an effort to proselytize, but merely assenting to traditions that have been observed and deemed constitutional for decades.
Some secularist will respond to this inquiry of mine by observing that Pagan traditions predate Christian observations at or around December 25th and, that early Christians in America, such as the Puritans, banned the celebration of Christmas partially because of those connotations.
Obviously, astute believers recognize this time of the year has numerous pagan traditions associated with it, but that is not the issue atheists are protesting. When some official affiliated with the Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation says we should wish each other a “happy solstice,” they clearly aren’t opposed to the observance of pagan holidays. Neither are atheists protesting Christmas displays for the reasons the Puritans did, so the history lessons are really a moot point in the discussion. I doubt atheists are concerned with emphasizing the authentic practice of Christianity when they file lawsuits.
By a similar manner, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for the practice of lofty public prayers as a self-serving demonstration of their personal piety. That passage has been used excessively, often by secularists, to claim that it is against biblical teaching to offer an invocation of solidarity at a solemn public event, such as an inauguration. But, the biblical edict of Jesus “to pray in your closet,” has nothing at all to do with those types of public practices.
This uncharacteristic emphasis for the teachings of Christ on the part of secularists, is really little more than a program of sophistry to take advantage of religious people who have a deep desire for fidelity to the tenets of their faith. This is a form of getting people to shoot themselves in the foot with their own pistol--willingly marginalize themselves against their own public interests.
We must certainly be respectful of all people, acknowledging the rights and liberty of conscience to the minority. But in this case, the pendulum has already swung too far in favor of dissent, so that we are now facing the tyranny of the angry and emboldened minority.
So please wish me a Happy Holiday if that’s truly your proclivity, but don’t ask me to refrain from wishing yourself and others a Merry Christmas.