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The ACLU and what war on Christmas?

By Michael M. Bates
web posted December 19, 2005

It looks like it's official. The war on Christmas we've heard about is nothing more than a figment conjured up by a few extremists.

The evidence accumulates. "What ‘War on Christmas?'" asked a column in a recent Washington Post. Salon.com, preferred reading at the Clinton White House, in the article "How the secular humanist grinch didn't steal Christmas" makes clear there is no war.

In recommending the piece, Fox News panelist Neil Gabler labeled three of his own network's hosts as "demagogues" for suggesting there's any assault on Christmas. We can only guess what that week's staff meeting was like.

Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein also finds no indication there's any antagonism directed at the day on which we commemorate the birth of Christ. Although he does admit: "We Jews find it a little embarrassing that adults can still make such a big fuss over Christmas. To us, Jesus was just a cool guy everyone liked because he died young."

The Indiana American Civil Liberties Union Web site currently lists an article authored by the organization's executive director explaining "How the ACLU Didn't Steal Christmas."

In it, he claims there's "a well-organized attempt by extremist groups to demonize the ACLU, crush religious diversity, and make a few bucks in the process." On the Illinois ACLU's Web site, it's noted: "this office has not brought legal action against a Chicago-area school district for a holiday celebration in many years. . ."

So that pretty well settles it. There is no war on Christmas. And even if there were, the ACLU wasn't part of it. Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams wrote. And the facts regarding the ACLU and Christmas, particularly as it relates to public schools, are incontestable.

A quick review of just a few of its actions:

Louisiana, 2004. The ACLU sues the Bossier Parish public school system for displaying a Nativity scene and holding a teacher-led prayer group.

Colorado, 2003. The ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League send a letter to the Elbert County charter school alleging Jewish students "no longer feel safe or welcome there." The parents represented by the ACLU had earlier demanded the school take all traditional Christmas songs, including "Frosty the Snowman" and "Jingle Bells," out of the school's holiday program.

Massachusetts, 2001. The ACLU threatens to sue Balch elementary school to prevent it from displaying a Nativity scene.

Georgia, 2001. Bowing to the ACLU's complaint that using the word in its calendar was "an endorsement of a particular religion," the Newton County school board removes "Christmas."

New York, 1998. The ACLU represents a family of atheists that complains the Gowanda public schools allow religious songs at school events. Two of the songs to which the family objects are "White Christmas" and "God Bless America." Earlier, the schools had tried accommodating the family by changing Christmas break to winter break.

Illinois, 1995. The ACLU sends a letter to the state urging Christmas carols not be played at Chicago's James R. Thompson Center. "Broadcasting sectarian hymns into public areas of the Center . . . is sponsoring religious expression," charges the ACLU. The state stops the carols for a week, but finally figures out it isn't violating the law and resumes them.

New Jersey, 1993. The ACLU sues the Cherry Hill School District for permitting the display of a Christmas tree, a Chanukah menorah and a Kwanzaa candelabra. The policy "blatantly disregards the guarantee of separation of church and state," according to the ACLU.

Utah, 1992. The ACLU demands a Nativity scene at South Fremont High School be removed. The scene's figures are only about two inches high, but they're big enough to merit the ACLU's concerns.

Indiana's ACLU executive director says extremists have attempted to demonize the organization. I say the ACLU has demonized and discredited itself by its aversion to religion.

In Illinois, the ACLU states it hasn't sued a Chicago-area school over Christmas in many years. This ignores the ACLU's consistent pattern of, year after year, trying to take Christ out of Christmas. The result has been a hostile environment in which school officials are easily intimidated.

Heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis said of one of his opponents, "He can run, but he can't hide." The ACLU can run, but it can't hide its disgraceful record on Christmas.

Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths. This essay appeared in the December 15, 2005 Oak Lawn Reporter.

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