(Update at end of article) I just received an email from a friend. Now ordinarily I don’t do the whole forwarded email thing. I tend to delete them without looking at them. At least, I used to. But lately I’ve gotten many good ones that grabbed my eye and my attention and moved me to share them with others. The one I’m going to write about here is a case in point. You probably know that the ACLU has been working hard to remove Christianity from our public square, our public schools, and from our public lives in general. One of the ways they have tried to accomplish this is by having any reference to Christmas expunged from all public places, hiding behind the ridiculous notion of separation of church and state. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the state to take over the church, I’m happy to have them separate, but that’s not what the ACLU is after. They don’t want the church and state to be separate, they want the state to trample and remove the church from our lives, our country and our world. Christmas is just part of it, albeit a highly visible part.
Well, the email I received suggests that we send Christmas cards to this very un-Christian organization. And I think it’s a great idea. Tell ’em that not only do we want Christmas to stay, but we want to put Christ back into Xmas. And, as a Catholic, I want to go even further: I want to put the Mass back in Christ-mass, which is what the word actually means. The Mass celebrating the birth of Christ. Christ Mass.
So there, ACLU, put that in your little atheistic pipe and smoke it! And have a Very Merry Christmass while you’re at it! Peace be with you.
Update, Dec 11 2009: Here’s another blog post (not mine) about the ACLU and their fight, not for religious liberty, but against the religious liberty of Christians. Seems that here in the good ol’ land of the free, we are free to be absolutely anything in the world except Christian, unless we keep our Christian-ness under lock and key, out of sight and out of mind. And I’m not the only one to notice it.
15 thoughts on “Christmas cards for the ACLU, something we all can do”
When discussing separation of church and state, it is critical to avoid the all-too-common mistake of conflating the “public square” with “government.” The principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. The First Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion.
As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment’s constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated.
Those running private businesses, of course, are free to highlight Christmas–or not–as they see fit.
The First Amendment embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion. Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to transform our secular government into some form of religion-government partnership should be resisted by every patriot.
The ACLU recognizes the distinction between public square and government in its publications and litigation. You should as well.
I have not conflated those terms or ideas. I am observing what has happened. I should be able to say Merry Christmas whether I work for the mom and pop shop down the street or for the Walmart that takes up half the street. I, of course, understand the difference between the state establishing a church (the way England did and China has also done, in direct competition with the Church in an attempt to squash the Church, which attempt has failed miserably, thank God) and the state protecting our religious freedoms. But our government seems less interested in protecting the freedom of religion than in protecting us from the mention of religion except to disparage it, especially if it’s Christian religion. Other religions don’t fare so badly, but it’s hard for me to ignore the fact that Christianity seems to be singled out for more than its share of knocks. I saw this clearly even when I was of no religious affiliation and when I was a Buddhist. It’s not Christian paranoia, which we are accused of, but which is nonsense.
It is nonsense to try to insinuate, as I think you have done here, that I would be in favor of the government trying to take over religion or to incorporate religion into it. First of all, see what I said above in this comment about governments who have meddled in religion. I don’t sound like a fan of that idea because I’m not. Second, religion played a part in our founding and the founders belief in, faith in, and reliance upon God is documented for all to read. Those in government do not have to be silent about religion in the false attempt to pretend that it has nothing to do with the decisions they have to make daily.
Religion out of sight is religion out of mind. And that is just what the enemy of religion wants: a religion that is not practiced and therefore is no defense against him.
I’d like to add a mention of this interesting post with my comments on another blog:
Let’s Keep The White House Nativity Scene And Dump The President
Wrong. I have no idea where you get the idea that government institutions need not be secular. That violates everything the Founding Fathers stood for.
Let’s take your “taking prayer out of public schools” nonsense. What was removed was enforced prayer which is clearly unconstitutional. Any child who chooses to do so can pray any time they like, so long as it doesn’t get in the way of the business public schools are supposed to be in. Since public schools cater to a wide range of religious beliefs (or nonbelief) and publicly funded, it is a secular institution.
Or how about placing a monument to the ten commandments in a public courthouse? First, western legal systems are based on the Roman system and only three commandments are even applicable to the law. So there isn’t even a historical basis for this kind of stunt. It is clearly a religious attack on secularism, and it has happened several times.
Apropos to the first item, I took a look at the list.The first item complained about the promotion of religion at a school function. I think the action is correct – the school is clearly promoting religion. Public schools are not free advertising apparati for religious institutions. The “See You At the Pole” event would have been far better advertised through churches.
The “Help! Help! We’re being repressed!” spin this website puts on the ACLU is pretty funny, since it is the religious right that is doing all the oppression. I’m sure the rest are in the same vein, so I won’t bother to look (amusing as it is).
Okay, then – in the ‘public eye’. Whatever. It’s your blog, but that doesn’t mean every one out there agrees with you. Since this ended up in the ‘atheism’ tag, you should expect dissent.
I would welcome intelligent, informed discussion. What you offer is dissent. Not the same thing. Common mistake. The post is tagged atheist because that is one of the tags it needs.
Enforced prayer? What are you talking about? Prayer in public is not “enforced” nor is it forced upon others. Forcing me to pray silently in my own head is a great way to keep me from being able to unite in vocal prayer with others, which is a particularly powerful and ancient way of praying. And that is the real goal of doing away with it. Whether you know it or not. I know it. And I know who benefits from it. Not you and not me. But one who hates all such manifestation of love and devotion to God. I’m sure you don’t hate that. I certainly don’t.
But there is someone who does. I’m sure it tickles him pink to not have to hear the prayers that he used to hear daily in schools across this country. Now he hears the kind of thing he craves, and sees the kind of activity he prefers too.
PS: Show us one instance where the ACLU has tried to infringe on religious freedoms. Just one where subverting what are supposed to be secular institutions. Just one.
Put up or shut up.
Fallacy: that institutions are supposed to be secular. That anything religious must not be tolerated. That allowing religious statements or phrases somehow violates the separation of church and state. For starters.
PS: Try telling someone else on her own blog to shut up. And still I allow you to make an @ss of yourself here.
Fighting for suppression of religion:
A search I just did at ACLJ, an organization that watches the ACLU and often fights them in court. You can read about a long list of battles in which the ACLU is not trying to defend religious freedom but trample it.
And after that, you can go do your own research.
In fairness I have also been reading about one ACLU story that may be positive:
I’m not trying to convert you either. And I honestly don’t care if you wrote it for other Christians. This is the public domain, in case you haven’t noticed. If you can’t handle comments from those who do not share your view, you shouldn’t be blogging.
What I’m doing is correcting a bald-faced falsehood. It is your hogwash this is the same ‘tired and untrue statements’, not mine. Freedoms are for everybody, not just Christians. I would defend your right to freedom of religion to my dying breath even if you would not do the same for me. The ACLU fights for everyone’s freedoms, not just the majority.
I allowed you to post your comment, as I have allowed you to post others. And that’s not what public domain usually refers to, by the way, it usually is used when discussing copyright issues. I do not have to entertain your comments, I don’t even have to allow you to make them, but I choose to allow them.
But I do not have to let you waste my time, which is what I would be doing if I argued with you. So I won’t.
Denial of what? You make absolutely no refutation of what I have said. Typical.
Refutation of what? The same tired and untrue statements that supporters of the ACLU generally make? I’m informing Christians of what is going on out there. You are already aware of what you and other atheists are doing. I’m not trying to inform you. Or convert you. I wrote the post for other Christians.
The ACLU defends freedom of religion as much as it defends the secular nature of public institutions. The ACLU has no interest in taking away your right to believe as you see fit. What it does do is fight against those who want to Christianify public institutions, a right which is completely fictitious (as well as unconstitutional). So put THAT in your pipe and smoke it. Merry Christmas to you, too!
That’s utterly ridiculous. And why do you feel the need to tell us that you are shamelessly atheist? Methinks that is protesting too much. Perhaps it’s a touch of denial.