Media Reacts to Rick Perry’s Comments on Religion

Media Reacts to Rick Perry’s Comments on Religion

As expected, Governor Rick Perry of the State of Texas, signed into law the “Merry Christmas Bill” which has received wide-spread praise and criticism in recent months. In so doing he made comments that has taken the focus from Christmas in Texas schools and instead inflames the controversies between freedom OF religion versus freedom FROM religion:

“Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion, and people of faith often feel like they can’t express that faith publicly. HB 308 works to address that by ensuring that people of all faiths are free to use traditional holiday greetings, and display religious scenes and symbols, even on school property. It ensures freedom of expression where, for many students, teachers and administrators, it’s most important.”

With that statement Governor Perry has sharply encapsulated the essence of the war on Christmas. As we have noted many times, Christmas itself has little to do with the conversation. The real controversy resides in the public declaration of religion and whether or not observances like Christmas are, in fact, government imposing religion on those who frankly don’t want it, consider it divisive, or even discriminatory.

Here is video of Perry’s comments:

Supporters of the bill point to stories we have covered in the past centered in Texas. Events in Crockett, Texas and Athens, Texas are held up as examples of why the bill is necessary. Out of state organizations such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation have descended upon Texas communities, schools and courts to file lawsuits aimed at the celebration of Christmas in schools and on public properties. Bill sponsors believe the new law will negate expensive lawsuits coming from out of state entities.

Opposition to the bill is strong, too — even in Texas. Local prominent atheists and even the ACLU have put Texas on notice that the limits of the new law will be tested and that protests are coming.

Coverage of the bill’s signing was posted at Politico, Huffington Post, Fox News, CNS News, Raw Story,
and dozens of other outlets.

We observe with interest how each of these outlets fail to give the full story in reporting the heightened amount of controversy surrounding Christmas in Texas. Some say the modern “war on Christmas” began more than a decade ago when parents were dismayed by schools in Texas that were not allowed to have red and green as colors at a holiday party held in a school and the court case in Plano, Texas where a school was sued for allowing a student to hand out candy canes to classmates with religious messages on them as Christmas gifts.

We encourage a thorough study of the genesis of the bill, the history of Christmas in Texas public schools and the many court cases surrounding the public display of Christmas in Texas. Then judge the media messaging — and the political posturing from the likes of Governor Perry — to fully judge what this conversation is really about.

Christmas is hardly the focus at all.

Christmas Tree Tax Returns to War on Christmas

Christmas Tree Tax Returns to War on Christmas

It’s back. A controversial measure that imposes a tax on Christmas trees is part of a new agricultural bill in Congress that is sure to be a headliner in the War on Christmas 2013.

In 2011 the Obama Administration introduced the idea after Christmas tree industry insiders lobbied for government support of marketing the Christmas tree industry. The real Christmas tree industry, backed heavily by major Christmas tree producing states such as Oregon, has suffered years of declining sales as many consumers have opted to purchase imported artificial Christmas trees.

What they want is a marketing campaign similar to the “Got milk?” campaign used for the dairy industry. A similar government program supports the beef industry.

Before all the ins-and-outs of marketing Christmas trees ever got talked about the bill got caught up in the war on Christmas as media outlets chose sides on whether or not the Obama administration was anti-Christmas for imposing a tax on trees. The measure calls for a “fee” to be imposed on the sale of each tree, an amount identified from 15 cents to 20 cents per tree, to finance the marketing campaign.

In 2011 the bill was introduced in November, just before the start of Christmas tree selling season. This time it was re-introduced in the middle of May.

It is now early June and opponents are lining up, once again, to oppose the bill (and mostly the tax) by once again calling it a Christmas Tree tax.

Groups like Heritage.org are political. Their job is to support or oppose legislation like this for the groups they support.

We’re warning you now that this issue is going to be spun, once again, as an anti-Christmas measure. We believe the facts should override the politics:

1. This measure is being pursued within the Christmas tree industry. Most tree growers WANT this.

2. Heritage is right. This is a tax, albeit a minor one and it WILL be imposed on consumers.

3. The Obama administration is right. This is NOT an anti-Christmas measure.