Another day and there is another story of Christmas being taken away from a community over a false claim of “separation of Church and State”. It is a common story: a close knit community that has celebrated Christmas for years suddenly loses or changes the event because someone complains that it is government forcing religion on the population.
Not like that hasn’t been done before.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared a holiday proclaiming, in part, “… It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
That holiday is Thanksgiving.
It gets remembered and celebrated every year across the country. In 2010, President Barack Obama said “As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation.” (He omitted this line in subsequent declarations in 2011 and 2012, however).
By contrast, this declaration making Christmas a national holiday pales by comparison:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following days, to wit: The first day of January, commonly called New Yearâ€™s day, the fourth day of July, the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas day, and any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving, shall be holidays within the District of Columbia, and shall, for all purposes of presenting for payment or acceptance of the maturity and protest, and giving notice of the dishonor of bills of exchange, bank checks and promissory notes or other negotiable or commercial paper, be treated and considered as is the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, and all notes, drafts, checks, or other commercial or negotiable paper falling due or maturing on either of said holidays shall be deemed as having matured on the day previous.
As the so-called “war on Christmas” heats up for 2013 and the complaints come in of children singing about Jesus, of religious displays on court house lawns, of the word “Christmas” attached to a “holiday” tree, let us remember that the Constitution does NOT mention or use the word “SEPARATION” in regards to government or religion.
There is NO such thing as “separation of Church and State”.
It is the Establishment Clause most cited in the Constitution by those attempting to remove Christmas from the public. This is the establishment clause, also known as the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Courts have continually established that the use of the word “Christmas”, the practice of declaring a holiday named “Christmas”, or the public celebration of the same using trees, Nativities, or other symbols common to the season does NOT constitute the establishment of a religion by the government.
Did Lincoln assault the Constitution with his declaration of Thanksgiving?
Do all Americans spit in the eye of church-versus-state separatists by celebrating Thanksgiving?
Does making a Christmas tree a “holiday tree” really correct anything — especially since the word holiday really means HOLY day?