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« on: December 12, 2006, 07:37:11 AM »

 A Victory for "Away in a Manager"

Late last week at the Lakeview Elementary School in Wilson County, Tennessee, moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles gathered at the school to watch the performance of the elementary students’ Christmas program.  Also in attendance were three lawyers, including our Senior Counsel from the American Center for Law and Justice.  The Wilson County School System has been sued by the ACLU because last year’s program included the singing of the song, “Away in a Manger.”   The ACLU actually alleged in the complaint that when people joined in to sing “Away in a Manger,” it violated the Constitution because the song is “exclusively Christian in nature, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.”  They went on to allege that “only the Christian viewpoint of Christmas was recognized and celebrated at this program.”

As this case was filed in federal court, the American Center for Law and Justice  represented school officials.  I wanted to make sure that the ACLU’s censorship attack would not be successful, and I am happy to report that at the program last week, students sang “Away in a Manger” in the presence of three lawyers and no additional legal action has been taken.  But isn’t it ridiculous that three lawyers had to monitor what fifth and sixth graders would be singing at the school’s event?  Have we reached a point in our culture where students singing a song that some might disagree with can now become a basis of censorship?  For all the ACLU’s talk of championing freedom of speech, they certainly weren’t championing the freedom of speech of these students.  The good news is that reason prevailed and the song was sung.

Retailers seem to have learned their lesson as well.  Wal-Mart and others have allowed, once again, for their employees to say “Merry Christmas.”  Even a spokeswoman from Wal-Mart was quoted as saying, “We’ve listened to our customers and associates, and they wanted Christmas back at Wal-Mart.”  Marisa Bluestone, the Wal-Mart spokeswoman, went on to say, “We’ve learned our lesson.  This year we’re not afraid to say 'Merry Christmas.’”   Most Americans prefer the greeting “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays.”  A survey by Rasmussen found that 69% of us prefer the traditional greeting—prompting the survey to state:  “The growing trend of political  correctness runs against the tide of popular opinion.”

Let’s not forget that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects religious speech and religious speakers.  The Supreme Court has consistently held that the Establishment Clause does not license government to treat religious people or religious practices as if they are subversive the American Republic and subject to unique disabilities.  As early as 1892, the Supreme Court recognized that we in the United States are a “religious nation.”   Justice O’Connor noted during the famed Pledge of Allegiance case:  “It is unsurprising that a Nation founded by religious refugees and dedicated to religious freedom should find references to divinity in its symbols, songs, mottoes, and oaths.  Eradicating such references would sever ties to a history that sustains this Nation even today.”

While we are pleased that the students in Tennessee were able to sing “Away in a Manager” without having to run down to the U.S. District Court, the City of Chicago still persists in its discrimination against “The Nativity Story.”  We did receive a letter from the City of Chicago regarding the reason for denial.  They had previously acknowledged that “The Nativity Story” might be deemed offensive and would be an inappropriate festival sponsor.  This was their decision, despite the fact that the festival organizers had already accepted “The Nativity Story” as a sponsoring organization.  While the City was reportedly worried about the movie being offensive to non-Christians, the fact is, by removing “The Nativity Story” as a festival sponsor, many Christians were offended.  This, however, does not seem to bother the City of Chicago.

While some retailers seem to get it and even the ACLU attorneys in Tennessee, at this point, seem to get it, the City of Chicago persists in its discriminatory tactics.  To target a traditional greeting of “Merry Christmas” or remove a corporate sponsor because of their religious message is not only wrong, but runs afoul of the First Amendment.  It’s time to reject political correctness for common sense.  That’s what happened in Tennessee this week; but unfortunately, it has yet to happen in Chicago.


Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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