This American Rabbi Values Christmas

It is once again Holiday Season, so the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is back working the courts as the Grinch to steal Christmas.

Not content with dismantling from public venues evocative and inspiring nativity scenes, the ACLU is determined to eradicate altogether any public reference to Christmas as an American holiday.

In Covington, Ga., the ACLU has filed suit against a public school district for having a calendar referring to December 25th as Christmas. Its legal wrecking crew would have us believe that this is "advancing religion," whereas sanity dictates that doing so is merely a routine designation found in all calendars, as July 4th is commonly inscribed as Independence Day. Certainly non-Christians are not being denied their freedom of religion by a calendar’s simply stating a well-known fact.

The ACLU’s war against Christmas is verified by yet a different suit against a Pittsburgh public parking lot setting aside, for convenience, parking spaces nearest a Roman Catholic church housing a nativity scene that people travel from afar to behold. The locality, in Chamber of Commerce fashion, is just accommodating visitors for a popular local attraction-in this case, by chance, a religious, seasonal one.

The ACLU’s insistence here that common courtesy and accommodation be forbidden bespeaks a civic mean-spiritedness, a narrow and small-minded approach to law, and reflects the insecurity and stinginess of certain ACLU-niks who choose not to share a majority-held celebration, i.e., "If I don’t have Christmas, neither can you." Obviously, the ACLU is animated by hostility to Christianity in the context of American public life.

America, however, needs Christmas, not simply in the private domain but also as a public expression. Not only for its magic and delight, but moreover as a testament to the Judeo-Christian roots upon which this country was founded.

Our historic way of thinking-the American ethos and its laws, its liberties-are not amorphous concomitants but direct outgrowths of the Founding Fathers’ understanding of the Judeo-Christian ethic. As Christmas represents this, its linkage to American public life is crucial. President Grant affirmed this when he so codified it.

Politics is influenced by culture, and all cultures derive from religion, even if time obscures the initial religious source and impetus. It is entirely possible that other societies have not attained America’s present-day success precisely because they have drawn their culture and behavior patterns from religious beliefs less conducive to productivity, fair play, inventiveness, and individual liberty than the uniquely created Judeo-Christian outlook.

While equality demands that all Americans be free to practice privately their faith, it does not mean that every faith engenders similar efficaciousness for producing the outstanding outcome that Judeo-Christianity has for America.

The ACLU is demanding public references to Christmas be similarly appropriated to Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and Hindu and Buddhist celebrations as public holidays. But that would be perilous, for the continued success of America depends upon a mindset predicated not, for example, in Islam and Islamic law but in the Judeo-Christian and English common law upon which our Declaration and Constitution were founded. Absent that, America would simply become a geographic location. It would cease to be real America.

Ironically, those most at war with public expression of Christian imagery are in the forefront of the demand for public expression and acknowledgement-especially in public schools-of Islamic symbols and rituals. This hypocrisy is shrouded through a semantic game wherein Judeo-Christian symbols are ostracized as "religious," while Islamic rituals are embraced as "cultural" expressions, the latest manipulation of politically-correct "multiculturalism."

One senses the push for things Islamic by those otherwise fighting Christian symbols arises because they know that the essence of America depends upon specific linkage to the Judeo-Christian ethic, and, for whatever warped reason, the toppling of traditional Americana is a goal. As with so many situations involving the ACLU, in the name of protecting a minority they deny to the majority its rights. A reverse fascism, a tyranny of the minority over the majority.

Sooner or later, a people is called upon to sacrifice and risk life for the preservation of its society. In this terrorist milieu, Americans are aware of this for the first time in recent memory. The more the ACLU strives to divest our society of that which is traditional and dear to it-be it Christmas, the Boy Scouts, the Ten Commandments, parental rights-the more it diminishes that which rouses people to sacrifice for it.

Delinking the public face from the private heart, creating separate identities between the polity and the private, is a recipe for civic detachment, apathy. Why sacrifice and risk all for an America that is no longer America, but Sweden? After all, the Swedes don’t. Clearly no one will go into harm’s way simply to preserve our way of life to play basketball and watch MTV.

This Christmas, let us hope that our soldiers, while preparing for their upcoming battle in which some may die fighting to preserve our way of life, do not hear the news that back home in the ACLU’s America, December 25th cannot be publicly referred to as Christmas. For the sake of their morale and spirit, let them be spared this news.