December 15, 2007
by Donald G. Mashburn
Some of the biggest of the Bigs among retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Target, seem to have seen the light on what Christmas means to some of their customers. That is, after they were smartly “bah-ed and humbugged” by customers who didn’t like the retailers’ avoidance of “Christmas” in their ads and store displays.
But Nativity scenes in public still bring knee-jerk reactions from the more intolerant. And signs depicting or naming Christ in Christmas plays, students’ drawings, and banners are enough to bring on a case the vapors for the Christ-intolerant and their supporters. They and their unwitting allies have hijacked the traditional Christmas season.
The hijacking has been facilitated by the commercial orgy that has distorted what Christmas used to mean to most of us. It’s no wonder that in the minds of many students and, sadly, many adults the real meaning and substance of Christmas have become blurred.
The hijackers are led by atheists and anti-religion groups, supported by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Education Association (NEA), and their ilk in their efforts to ban any sign of Christ in schools and public places.
But the real substance of Christmas the Christ of Christmas is not a banner, a tree, or a manmade display. The substance of Christmas is what it means to those who believe that Jesus came from God to die on the cross to atone for our sins and the sins of the world.
They know they have a Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, and they oppose efforts to discriminate against them for doing so. They object to the discriminatory actions of school administrators banning or prohibiting anything with Christian significance, while approving decisions to permit Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Islamic displays.
Christians do feel discriminated against, when anti-Christian activists protest hearing or seeing any public display or mention of the name of Jesus. Schools that banned “Merry Christmas” claimed its “religious significance” somehow violated the separation of church and state. One reportedly removed “Christmas” from its calendar so students would not be exposed to the “Christ” part of “Christmas.”
Christian hymns, such as “Silent Night,” can put some school administrators, and a few anti-Christian parents, into a tizzy.
In the liberal world of political-correctness-gone-goofy, “Happy Holidays” fits the season of commercialism better than “Merry Christmas.” But only short years ago, Christmas had special meaning: It was the day we celebrated the coming of the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, “Immanuel, ... God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Those who are cynical and intolerant of the Christ of Christmas should take a close look at this Jesus, who although He Himself was sinless, willingly suffered the agony and shame of the cross for our sins.
And the empty tomb gave irrefutable and timeless testimony that He was who He said He was, the Son of God. And the empty tomb was evidence that God accepted His perfect sacrifice, and that He was worthy in God’s sight to be the Redeemer of an imperfect mankind.
This historical, resurrected Christ does not live in the commercial tinsel and glitter of the secularized “Christmas Season.” He lives in the hearts of changed men, women and children whose lives have been transformed by the teachings, life, death and resurrection of the babe born in a manger on that first Christmas night.
His miracles have continued in divinely transformed lives, from the first martyr, Stephen, and the martyred apostles, to those who witness and stand for what’s right today. These changed lives attest to the divinity, power and real meaning of the Christ whose coming we celebrate on Christmas.
Christmas without Christ is empty. Against His life, death and resurrection, the worldly trappings of Christmas fade to nothing. If we see Christmas only as a time to acquire “stuff,” we rob ourselves of the real meaning of Christmas. The stuff acquired at Christmas, and in life, is of no lasting significance a one-day garage sale will take care of most of it after we’re gone.
The meaning of Christmas is too important to miss: Christ came; He loved us enough to suffer and die for us; and He’s coming again!
And neither school superintendents nor the anti-God types that intimidate them with threats of lawsuits by ACLU lawyers can change that.
Liberal agenda violates separation of church and state
By Robert Meyer
Typically any discussion about breaches in the so-called impregnable wall of church and state separation are associated with right-wing fundamentalist Christians. This is a gross misconception, due largely to a deconstruction of the true meaning concerning the church and state separation concept.
The “strict separatist” view of this doctrine has come into vogue, its contemporary roots were ushered in primarily by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education. The 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman ruling gave us the “Lemon Test,” further refining and codifying the requirements of the establishment clause to the satisfaction of the then current Supreme Court.
The modern application of this approach yields something almost tantamount to affirmative action for secularists. This is accomplished by viewing the concept of separation as an ideological separation of the secular and sacred realms, rather than a functional and jurisdictional separation of the two institutions, church and state. A sociopathic conceptual divide between God and government results, rather than a healthy recognition and respect of sphere sovereignty. We have seen the clever, but irreverent bumper sticker slogan: “The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.”
Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn would not be impressed. He might reply that the last time a country forgot about God, millions were murdered and that event happened more recently in the “enlightened” 20th century.
After the liberal makes his political or philosophical dissertation about getting right wing fundamentalist thinking out of the halls of government, he is ironically ready to demonstrate that he doesn’t really believe in church and state separation after all.
We find him asking rhetorical questions, such as, who would Jesus bomb, or how does Bush’s foreign policy square with the Sermon on the Mount? Viola! Suddenly there is no more talk about rendering unto Caesar differently than unto God.
There is no consideration on the part of the liberal pundit, that the state is charged with wielding the power of the sword, thus must be distinguished from the church as it exercises its mandate. The tendencies to blur the lines of distinction get more convoluted when applied to economic policy.
A traditional understanding of church and state separation recognizes that the church has the ministry of grace, whereas the state must administer justice. In recent decades, the state has acted like the church by implementing scores of programs granting as benefits rights of specific welfare to certain citizens. That constructively puts charity under the aegis of the state, where it becomes a right that is funded by coercive taxation, rather than being the receipt of benevolence given voluntarily by the hand of the faithful believer. Of course the church must be held responsible for allowing this to happen, as a result of forgetting its benevolent obligations.
This is the initial point of departure at which the liberal most grievously offends the separation of church and state. He does not care that the state is used to remedy a problem that the church is charged with attending to. Use the government to do the “work of the Lord,” for an area, which it was never constitutionally commissioned, and that will be just fine.
The liberal is quick to sound the alarm in detecting the slightest whiff of theocracy, but equally as swift to foist on citizens the scourge of statism. Few see the need to limit the government when it usurps the jurisdiction and function of the church, probably because so many self-interested people are unjustly enriched when it happens.
The quasi Fabian Socialist is a far greater threat to skewing the traditional understanding of church and state separation, than any threat from a so-called Dominionist.
Robert E. Meyer is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. (www.thenma.org).