The war on ChristmasDaniel Yergin, Ph.D
By Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich
(The Washington Times) – Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado took a small but important step inCongress this week when he introduced a resolution, H. Res. 564, along with 35 cosponsors, to reassert the place of Christmas in the public square.
The resolution “recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas; strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references toChristmas; and expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.”
These simple sentiments should be uncontroversial. Unfortunately, they are.
For two generations, the secular Left has attacked expressions of faith in the public square — and especially expressions of Christian religious belief.
They have fought to strike the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
They have fought to remove the Ten Commandments from courthouse walls nationwide.
And they have worked to exclude references to God from public buildings and monuments wherever they can, most recently at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall — and he was a Baptist minister!
These attacks constitute an assault on our very ability to have a public discourse that includes the values and principles that a vast majority of Americans hold dear. It is an attempt to shut down any discussion not grounded firmly in the assumptions of the secular Left. This attempt to restrict religious expression is completely foreign to the historic American model — as is the hostility to religious expression itself.
From the beginning, the idea of America has relied on assumptions of faith. Our Declaration of Independence states that we are “endowed by our Creator” with our unalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in Zorach vs. Clauson, “We are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
To try to expel all expressions of religious belief out of the public square, then, is to seek to eliminate an essential part of what it means to be American.
The effort to erase our religious heritage is at no time more blatant than during the Christmas season. Christmas, of course, is an extraordinary expression of faith when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ — more than 2,000 years later.
The secular Left dislikes this idea. They either don’t believe in theChristmas miracle or they don’t believe it should have any place in our national discourse. And so they seek to purge references to Christmasfrom public life and turn it into a secular holiday.
In Orange, Texas, a nativity scene that has been displayed duringChristmas for three decades was removed this month after atheists insisted on their own display. The city manager told Breitbart the town simply could not afford the legal costs to fight for the nativity scene.
Also this month, at a public school in Indiana, “A federal judge has banned a public high school from including a live nativity in this year’sChristmas show,” the Blaze reports, “granting a preliminary injunction against the scene and agreeing with secular activist groups that it ‘conveys a message of endorsement of religion’.”
Such hostility to Christmas and the reason hundreds of millions of Americans celebrate it would have been alien to earlier generations of Americans.
As Callista recounts in “Christmas in America,” her most recent children’s book featuring Ellis the Elephant, Christmas has been an important fixture of American life from the very beginning of our nation.
The first Jamestown settlers celebrated Christmas aboard their ships while trapped in the English Channel on their way to America. (And when they landed at Cape Henry in 1607, one of the first things they did was to erect a cross to give thanks to God for their safe passage.)
In many of the colonies that grew in the following decades — almost all populated at first by religious pilgrims — Christmas was an important annual tradition that brought together family, friends and congregations.
Then, in 1776, on perhaps the most consequential Christmas in American history, Gen. George Washington led his dwindling Continental Army across the icy Delaware River. Their surprise victory over the Hessians at Trenton was a Christmas miracle in its own right. Without it, we might not have had a United States of America.
If you agree that Christmas matters, that it has been important throughout our nation’s history and still occupies a special place in our culture today, call your member of Congress and urge him or her to joinCongressman Lamborn’s resolution. Call your senators and ask them to introduce a similar resolution there. And then take time to talk to the young people in your life about Christmas – a cherished part of the American experience.