An article in the online publication — FLI Insider — sent me searching through several years of radio commentaries to find my stories covering the “Christmas Wars.”
I found quite a few.
Here’s one from 12 years ago: Mayor Tony Court of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania received a threatening letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation about a nativity scene that had been displayed in his town for the previous fifty Christmas seasons. The letter insisted the nativity scene was illegal and had to be taken down. It could remain only if accompanied by an anti-Christmas banner containing a long message, ending with these words: “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
“No way,” said Mayor Court. But many city officials are not so bold.
Over the years, the Freedom From Religion and other complainers have launched hundreds of challenges against creches on public property. Often they insist that localities obey something called “The Three Reindeer Rule” which requires that a number of secular trappings of Christmas be placed around the nativity scene.
Jorge Gomez of First Liberty Institute, author of the article that sent me on my search, explains that “the law protects expressions of faith in the public square.” That’s always been true, but many city officials don’t realize it, or they simply don’t want the fight.
Now, thanks to two landmark US Supreme Court victories for religious freedom, the folks at First Liberty want Americans to know “it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.”
The Supreme Court’s momentous decisions, protecting Coach Joe Kennedy’s public prayer and safeguarding the Bladensburg Peace Cross, remove “major barriers and precedents against religious freedom.”
According to First Liberty, this “means you can go into your community and begin restoring Nativity scenes, Menorahs and other religious memorials, images, and displays.” First Liberty has launched Restoring Faith In America — RFIA.org — to help folks work with local leaders to seize this wonderful opportunity.