WILLIAMS: When not to turn the other cheek

OPINION/ANALYSIS:

One of the most effective ways to overturn a culture is not to take it on directly, but to undermine it gradually. If you carry out a full frontal assault on majority opinion, people become alarmed and fight back. But when you do it slowly, step by step, you can make your destruction look harmless … even reasonable.

That’s exactly what’s happening in this country.

For the past half-century, there has been a slow but unrelenting attack on the Christian foundations of the United States. The evidence is beyond dispute. First, secularists took prayer out of the public schools because it “promoted religion and alienated nonbelieving children.” Even a simple moment of silence was too threatening.

Then they wanted the study of the Bible taken out of schools because that “promoted Christianity.” Never mind that the Scriptures form the basis of Western civilization and thought, and have inspired believers and nonbelievers alike over the centuries. Try reading Shakespeare or Dante or Robert Frost or just about any of the classics of Western literature without some familiarity with the Bible, and you’ll be lost.

Of course, public monuments listing the Ten Commandments had to go, too, because displaying the moral foundation of Western law somehow endorsed Judeo-Christian religion. In 2003, Roy Moore lost his post as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to remove one such monument from the state courthouse.

That wasn’t the only display nonbelievers wanted gone. Every year, there are fewer nativity scenes on display in places where they’ve been seen and appreciated for years. Recently, the New Jersey Department of Transportation removed a nativity scene from the St. George Ferry Terminal. They let a Christmas tree and a menorah remain, with one clueless city representative claiming a menorah isn’t a religious symbol (he might want to take a look at Exodus 25:31-40).

Popular Christian symbols are a tempting target, and the attack on them reveals another technique of the secularist subversive: If you have trouble getting rid of a particular religious symbol or idea - the Christmas Nativity or the Easter Resurrection, for example - replace it with something harmless and comical. That’s why the traditional story of Christmas has been replaced with Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and toy-making elves.

Nonbelievers want the season to be about toys and not Jesus. The same thing is true of Easter - the most important holiday on the Christian calendar - which is now more associated in the public mind with an oversized rabbit and decorated eggs and candy. He might as well be the Tooth Fairy. What secularists can’t immediately destroy, they undermine with silly characters and distracting commercialism.

Nonbelievers have even targeted our language. If you go into a CVS Pharmacy, or a Barnes & Noble, or a Radio Shack, or a Staples (or many others) this Christmas season, you’re going to be wished “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” The stores claim this change is being carried out in the name of diversity. After all, you wouldn’t want to offend a Muslim by wishing him a merry Christmas. (Try using that same argument to ban “Happy Ramadan” in Saudi Arabia.) According to the American Family Association, a Staples representative actually explained the policy by saying, “We use the term ‘Happy holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’ We do this because it does not offend any other religions and to remain politically correct.”

The nonsense won’t stop there. Atheists and agnostics have made their next target pretty clear: They want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance and “In God We Trust” off our money. Those calls have been resisted so far, but if things continue as they are, they’ll eventually succeed. Enough!

We’re losing the Christian foundations of this country, and people of faith are letting it happen. It’s time for us to take a page from the “tea party,” but instead of taking our government back, we need to take our culture back.

Don’t misunderstand me: America is a diverse country, and that’s one of our strengths. I’m not denying that at all. However, America was founded on Christian principles; it’s part of our national identity. If you go to Egypt or Saudi Arabia, you understand that the culture is based on Islamic principles, and you need to respect that as a visitor. Likewise, when you go to Mexico, you know that the national language is Spanish, and you need to speak it if you want to communicate. Those nations aren’t expected to undermine their own foundations just to accommodate other people, so why are non-Christians demanding that of America? Why are we always accommodating?

When I speak to my Jewish and Muslim friends, they don’t have a problem with nativity scenes or being wished “Merry Christmas” in stores. They understand that it’s part of the culture and isn’t a matter of discrimination. Why is it, then, that in the United States, the only people you can discriminate against are Christians? You can say whatever you want if you’re Muslim or Jewish or Hindu or atheist. You can put up displays with menorahs, or stick atheist posters on subway walls or the sides of buses. But if you wish someone “Merry Christmas,” or dare to display a nativity scene in a public place, you’re violating the all-holy law of diversity.

Christianity is being punished in the very country it should be thriving. It has become an outcast in the land it created. American Christians are tolerant and forgiving. We don’t punish people for their individual creeds or cultures. But like every other country, we need to protect our foundational identity. After all, that’s what has allowed the United States to be the tolerant place that it is.

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