- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

It's getting harder and harder to have a "Merry Christmas" within the bounds of political correctness. As reported yesterday by this newspaper's Joyce Howard Price, even hinting at the holidays is increasingly frowned upon within the confines of America's public schools. For example, one school barred students from handing out Christmas cards to classmates. Another censured students for wearing red and green scarves and daring to wish fellow students "Merry Christmas" in a Christmas skit. In Silverton, Ore., the superintendent ordered all "religious" decorations removed from students' lockers, while in Covington, Ga., the school board went overboard deleting the word "Christmas" from school calendars. Perhaps they all just sort of know, intuitively, what days to take off.

In the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Founding Fathers do no more than prohibit the establishment of an official state church. Over the years, however, the U.S. Supreme Court lost sight of their clear intent, imposing increasingly strict limits upon religious expression. In practice, this has created open hostility toward any religious expression whatever. Thus, displays on public property of nativity scenes and menorahs even jolly old St. Nick himself have come to be considered tantamount to a "Church of the United States." It's a ridiculous and malicious distortion.

A secularized society was not what the Founders intended or what most Americans want. A state religion is one thing; students wishing one another "Merry Christmas" and exchanging Christmas cards is another thing entirely. Those who can't see the difference, or consider both equally pernicious, are outside the American mainstream. They should not be allowed to dictate their peculiar view, which amounts to a virulent hatred of any and all forms of religious expression, to dominate the public-policy debate.

Thankfully, ordinary citizens and groups such as the Rutherford Institute, which provide legal representation in cases involving religious discrimination, are challenging all of this. These are excellent antidotes to the forces that would extinguish the Christmas spirit. As for groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and its cohorts, well, Scrooge said it best when he quipped, "Bah, humbug!"

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