A Christian organization is fighting to defend celebration of Christmas in public schools and facilities.
The Arizona-based Defense Fund, an evangelical Christian organization, is leading the Christmas Project with 700 lawyers against the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Although a 2000 Gallup Poll found that 96 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, it looks like it is getting harder to distinguish what makes Christmas celebration unconstitutional in public. Many Christian groups ponder ‘What is allowed at Christmas?’
Mathew Staver, president of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, said that privately sponsored nativity scenes on public property are constitutional, even in the absence of a secular symbol. But "to avoid any confusion, it is probably best to have a sign nearby acknowledging the private sponsorship," he said. If a school hosts an event where students are permitted to select the content of their songs, "an individual student may sing a religious song."
Organizations like the ACLU have been successful in taking advantage of ignorance of the law, rights groups say. They also have used bullying and lies to get their way.
The ACLU "uses fear and intimidation and disinformation to get school districts and other government entities to censor Christmas in ways no court has required," Jordan Lorence, senior counsel at ADF, said. The ACLU sometimes sends letters to schools saying a certain activity is unconstitutional, even when it isn't, and schools often comply in order to avoid a lawsuit, he said.
"People need to know the truth that the censorship of Christmas is not required by the Constitution," Lorence said. "I find it maddeningly frustrating that the ACLU writes these letters."
This year, several cities such as Meriden, Conn., Queens, N.Y., Indianapolis, Troy, Mich., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Elizabeth, Colo., Hanover Township, N.J., and Lawrence, Kan. seem to want to allow celebrations of Christmas – as long as it's not recognized as a Christian holiday. In Queens a mother filed a lawsuit against her son’s school because it would not display her child’s nativity scene whereas other religious symbols were allowed.
No court has ordered school officials to censor Christmas carols or to eliminate all references to Christmas, said Alan Sears, president of the ADF. Congress has proclaimed Christmas to be a legal public holiday, and celebrating it is "part of being an American," he said.
Then how should the issue of "wall of separation between church and state" be handled?
According to Religion Journal, the U.S. Supreme Court first used Thomas Jefferson's phrase in 1947 to interpret the First Amendment's "establishment clause," which forbids Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion." However, in that same case, the court declared that "state power is no more to be used to handicap religions than it is to favor them."
In addition, a large number of Christians are in concern of the commercialization of the season and are continuing to fight against it. One of the ways to fight is through websites such as GrinchList.com, which encourages people to contact listed organizations to voice their concern.
"I'm not sure it's worth keeping Christmas anymore," columnist Cal Thomas wrote. "I love the original Christmas. I have come to detest the masquerade that does not even pretend to be what it was when I was growing up. That other Christmas I intend to keep. This monstrosity I will try with increasing difficulty to ignore."