Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nativity scene at the Courthouse

Let’s go back to allowing a Nativity scene in front of the courthouse, as we did for nearly 200 years. It made Christians feel good and reminded them what Christmas was about. The Right is exorcised about a “war on Christmas,” and they have a point.

The Bill of Rights says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”Allowing Christians to put up a Nativity scene is not establishment of religion, but denying them is interfering with, if not prohibiting, the “free exercise thereof.”

Nativity scenes were on public property in every town until an organization called Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, or POAU, was formed in the late 1940’s and began campaigning against any recognition (let alone, "establishment") of religion by any governmental entity, including the public schools. Thus was the war on Christmas born, although, like World War 1, it didn’t get its current name until years later. Bill O’Reilly named it in 2005 and began to fume about it.

Hard for a liberal to admit, but O’Reilly was right. Denying religious groups (Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims) the use of public property is interfering with the free exercise of religion. When we interfere with strongly held beliefs people get angry, and bad things happen. Better to return to the words and meaning of the Bill of Rights.


Jack Marshall said...

The deal is, and has to be, if you have a creche, you have to have, or at least permit, as many other seasonal symbols as there are legit religions....and I think I come down on "Have," rather than permit. Hey, I loved singing the religious carols in school, or just hearing them, but I can't get around it (if you can, please do!): if the government highlights a religion in the public square, it is annointing it. Nostalgia no match for the law, sadly.

Bob said...

I hated the religious carols in school. My friend Alice Wasserman (Jewish, like me) was sent to the principal's office for refusing to sing Adeste Fideles in Latin class. But a government agency allowing use of its property for a Creche isn't an endorsement of Christianity any more than its allowing the Bnai Brith Men's club to meet in a school is an endorsement of Judaism.