Keeping Christ In Christmas: Christians Shouldn’t Celebrate The ‘Reason For The Season’ Silently

Dec 11, 2023

We’ve come so far with reaffirming religious freedom in the United States, especially with landmark Supreme Court wins in 2022 and 2023. Yet, there is still a war on keeping “Christ” in Christmas. It is important to understand the government cannot censor the “Reason for the Season” at Christmastime.

Liberty Counsel is on the front lines of defending the First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and the free exercise of religion. During the Christmas season, we see a heightened attack on religious displays and expression in both the public and private sectors. This year, an attack on religious displays came in early November when city employees in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, received an email from city administrators instructing them to refrain from “using religious decorations or [sic] solely associated with Christmas (such as red and green colors) when decorating public spaces within city buildings.

While the email detailed a list of acceptable decorations that included Winter Wonderland and Northern Lights themes, this “inclusive” policy of acceptable decorations excluded Christmas decorations like Nativity scenes or even traditional Christmas colors like red and green. The city’s email to censor religious decorations was clearly based on hostility to Christian viewpoints.

In response to the city’s blatantly unconstitutional ban on religious expression, Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter with this warning: “The Christmas holiday ban violates the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility toward Christianity. The First Amendment does not permit the City to eliminate Christmas holiday symbols or expression in a misguided attempt to be ‘inclusive’ by eliminating all traditional elements of expression regarding a federally and state recognized holiday.”

Thankfully, the City of Wauwatosa quickly backtracked from its unconstitutional Christmas decoration ban and sent an updated policy email saying employees could decorate “in the manner they have historically decorated or alter their decorations to be more inclusive at their discretion.”

The city officials realized they had no legal ground to trample on an employee's right to decorate for Christmas in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Building on a Strong Legal Track Record at Christmas

In 2021, Liberty Counsel celebrated another win for religious liberty in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals when the court ruled in favor of a Nativity display at the Jackson County Courthouse. In Woodring v. Jackson County, Indiana, we represented Jackson County in this precedent-setting case that ruled the annual Nativity scene display in front of the courthouse was constitutional, as it was part of the larger holiday display. This was the first time a court ruled that the “Lemon Test” does not apply to holiday symbols.

Thanks to the 2022 religious liberty wins at the United States Supreme Court in the unanimous Shurtleff v. City of Boston decision and the Kennedy v. Bremerton School District decision, the unconstitutional “Lemon Test” is now dead. The “Lemon Test” was used to censor religious viewpoints and displays in the public square for over 50 years, but since it’s now overruled, it can no longer be used to police religious displays at Christmastime.

In addition to the Jackson County Courthouse case, we’ve addressed hundreds of Christmas censorship attempts through the years by restoring Nativity scenes banned from public property, returning Christmas carols to the elderly who were silenced in their nursing homes, lifting a ban on public school students wearing red and green colors to class, and correcting school officials who replaced religious lyrics in Christmas carols. We even launched our annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign and the Naughty and Nice List to recognize retail stores that celebrate Christmas and expose stores that attempt to censor or silence Christmas.

A Faith-filled Reminder

I want to remind everyone of the constitutional right to exercise religious freedom in celebrating Christmas and the birth of Christ this holiday season. There is no reason Christians in the United States should feel as if they cannot display a Nativity scene or say “Merry Christmas!” for fear of anti-Christmas censorship or government retaliation.

Christmas is one of the most joyous times of the year as we celebrate the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who was born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, and we cannot keep silent about that! Despite attempts to whitewash Christmas as just another secular, commercialized holiday, we will always keep Christ in Christmas.

Originally Published in Higher Ground.


 


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