By Dr. Harold Pease
What are my constitutional rights in school with respect to Christmas? It might surprise some to learn that the Constitution does not allow the government to prevent you from doing most things that you do at home also in public—even at school. The Constitutionally ill-informed like to refer to the “separation of church and state” as the rational for a prohibition of religious or seasonal expression in public places. No such language exists in the Constitution. To prevent you from doing these things would be as unconstitutional as mandating that you do.
Actually the language of the First Amendment, from which opponents to religion derive this falsehood, is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Such was included for the sole purpose of preventing the government from creating a state approved organization of religion as had happened in Europe for more than a thousand years. Simply, government may not establish a state religion. Instead, government is charged with protecting “the free exercise thereof.”
So decorate your school Christmas trees (not diversity trees), distribute your Christmas cards with Biblical messages on them (not Holiday Cards) to your school mates, greet your school friends and colleagues with Merry Christmas (not Happy Holidays), sing “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World,” in your school choirs and for heaven sakes do not let your teachers or administrators change Christmas Break to Winter Break or “Sparkle Season.” You have a culture and heritage to preserve, so say the courts. You may even have a nativity scene in the classroom or on school grounds but outside activities are better left to parent organizations.
Some might say that I am giving you the view and practice of 50 years ago. That is so but amazingly that view remains in place. Whereas the Supreme Court has participated in constitutional distortion in so many other areas in the past, the original view, the “free exercise” of religion, still holds. The Court has not ruled on any measure that would silence those who celebrate Christmas openly and in public places. If it did so it might fairly be accused of creating an organization of the irreligious to destroy religious freedom.
Yes, you might get a letter from the ACLU threatening your “free exercise thereof” of religion but the Supreme Court has never upheld their view—in fact, the opposite has been established in case after case. Because they have been successful in creating the opposite public impression they can bully and bluster the ignorant into forfeiting this constitutional right.
Should they do more than bluster, which is unlikely given their loss ratio, defending your right to celebrate Christmas in the traditional—even historical manner—is protected by the Constitution and defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom who have recently sent a letter to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide offering their free legal assistance. Attorneys all over the country volunteer their services to protect this part of the Constitution. Should a student or faculty member feel threatened by their leadership or wish council on this subject they can be reached at 1-800-835-5233 and such are invited to visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org. The Alliance will be happy to send a letter encouraging them to honor your First Amendment rights.
Alliance literature notes the things that may be done in the public setting. Colleges may decorate campus Christmas trees. Christmas programs may include religious songs. The courts have recognized for many years that Christmas carols have achieved a cultural significance that justifies their being performed in public schools. Moreover, teachers may constitutionally present Christmas passages from the Bible when treating the event in the historical sense. The First Amendment does protect the right of individuals to private religious expression on public property—even nativity scenes. Even showing paintings of Jesus Christ in public parks is constitutional. May the government sponsor religious displays inside government buildings? Of course!! How could the Supreme Court rule otherwise? Moses with the Ten Commandments is chiseled in stone on their building. Prayer is held every working morning in both the House and Senate chambers and each dedicate a room for quiet meditation and prayer for our legislators.
So I invite you to push the limits of freedom. How else will it be retrieved? If not you then who? If not now then when? Doing nothing only exacerbates the problem and encourages opponents to bluster and intimidate all the more.
Merry Christmas my liberty loving friends.