Is Christmas facing a death sentence? ACLU Leads the Fight for Execution

James H. Lilley

Christmas is supposed to be a time of fun and laughter. A time when family and friends get together to share the joy and warmth of friendship, and remember the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem on a night so long ago. But, over the past several years the Grinches have been working overtime trying to destroy everything that is a part of the Christmas Holiday, and it seems they are striving to be rid of it altogether.

I can't imagine a world without Christmas. My recollection of Christmases of bygone years has always held many very fond memories. The first that comes to mind is the yearly visit from Santa every child in our family looked forward to in the days before Christmas. Without fail, the jolly old elf would appear at the door after dark, laughing a merry "Ho Ho Ho" and lugging a huge red bag filled with gifts. He knew the name of each child in the household, and after a round of hugs, would call them one by one to step up and receive a gift from his bag. As years passed, I found that the Saint Nick, who arrived like clockwork each year, was my uncle, George Healy.

I don't know how many years Uncle George made the rounds to family households, but he certainly put a lot of joy in the hearts of the children he brought gifts to. But, I think he probably found as much, or even more delight in the yearly visits than the children. It seemed that his role as the giver of gifts brought him a sense of satisfaction, because he loved being the bearer of gifts and glad tidings. And, I'm sure all those smiles he put on so many faces was really the only present he ever wanted for Christmas.

In those days gone by, Thanksgiving was always the day that marked what I thought was the beginning of the Christmas season. There was something magical in the air on Thanksgiving morning, and by the end of the day there was a sense of anticipation. Even back in the classroom there was a feeling that something was different. The nuns were a little more cheerful with each passing day, and the tales of the first Christmas were a part of the daily class routine.

Then too, there was the preparation for the "big event" in our young lives-Midnight Mass. And, indeed it was something very special to be an Altar Boy, or member of the Choir for that first Mass. There would be days of practice to make certain everything would be perfect, from Altar Boys holding their candles correctly, to the girls in the choir singing in the proper key. The nuns scolded and demanded another dress rehearsal because things just weren't measuring up, and in those hectic sessions the excitement grew. And, by sunrise on Christmas Eve, it was nearly impossible to measure the levels of excitement and anticipation.

The dawn of Christmas Eve meant that only a matter of hours stood between me and stepping out on to the altar for Midnight Mass. The thought of presents under the tree the following day was suddenly a distant second to taking part in that most joyous observance. Of course, I was expected to take a nap after dinner so I'd be rested and wide-awake for Mass, but I don't recall ever sleeping when I crawled into bed.

Just the thought of being on the altar, the sound of the carols, and the hundreds of people filling the church was more than enough to keep me wide-eyed, and anxious for the celebration of the mass. And, certainly being included as an altar boy in such a grand observance was an honor and privilege. After all, not everybody would be as close to God during the ceremony as those surrounding the altar.

When the altar boys and the choir members began arriving at St. Paul's Church, the nuns were usually in the final stages of hysteria, certain that something would go terribly wrong during Mass. In spite of their panic, everything went smoothly and no candles were dropped, no altar boys were incinerated, the church wasn't burned down, and the choir sang just beautifully.

As years passed and I grew older, I never tired of the Christmas Season. I still look forward to watching the same Christmas movies over and over, and spending time with my family. But now time with my family is more treasured than ever, because of those who are no longer here to share it with us. We can only remember the good times, the laughter, and sitting down with them around the table for a holiday meal. Although I have found something, which brings a new ray of sunshine to the Christmas season. For the past several years I've been taking my grandchildren, Sarah and Ryan, along to help select and cut down the Christmas tree.

After the tree is brought home, they're anxious for it to be put up, because they'll be doing a great deal of its decorating. After the decorating is complete and the evening meal is over, it's time to sit down together for our movie-A Muppet Christmas Carol. I can't help but smile each time I recall the first year that Sarah and Ryan helped begin our now yearly tradition. When it came time for the movie, Sarah curled up with Jody on the sofa, and Ryan climbed on my lap in the recliner.

Ryan, only three at the time, nestled his head against my shoulder and was fast asleep about a minute into the movie. And that is truly a memory to label "priceless." Yet, there are those who enthusiastically lead the charge to destroy the very thing that gave me such a wonderful memory.

Christmas has been celebrated around the world, through medieval times and the Middle Ages, to our present day. The difference, of course, is that there are no records from medieval times, and the Middle Ages indicating that someone was offended by the words "Merry Christmas" or demanded the removal of a Christian symbol from a public place. There were celebrations honoring the birth of Christ, and the holiday had become so prestigious that England's King Richard II hosted a feast in the year 1377.

At that Christmas feast 28 oxen and 300 sheep were eaten. And, there were no protests by animal rights groups chanting, "save the sheep" or "spare the oxen." Furthermore, I haven't found any indication that King Richard was dragged before the court by an offended person, because he hosted a Christmas feast instead of a diversified, multi-cultural holiday event.

I don't know what's happened to America, but I don't like it. Over the past two or three decades the United States has become a nation consumed by political correctness and a willingness to compromise the very principles on which this country was founded. One of those ideals was freedom of religion, but lately the voices of a few, represented fervently by the ACLU, are fighting to take away the rights of the many to celebrate long-standing holiday traditions. At times it seems as though God Himself is on trail.

His son was brought before an unwilling judge in Pontius Pilate and crucified long ago, but it looks as if the ACLU and our courts are eager to crucify Him again. Lawsuits are filed, the ACLU pounds the drums, and judges around the country agree that God, His name, Commandments, and the holidays honoring Him are offensive, or in some way violating a law. Even a number of our government agencies, The National Park Service and The National Cemetery Association just to name two, are jumping aboard the train of damnation.

About 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and 87% of Americans believe Christmas displays should be allowed on public property. Yet, symbols representing Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza have been ordered removed from public places, because of the actions of a single person or group, who believed these figures were offensive and/or conflicted with their personal beliefs. And, surely their forced removal has aggravated thousands who enjoyed looking at them, and remembering what they represented, but it seems that it's not the rights of the many that matters.

CEOs of big business, fearing that the word Christmas might insult an individual, or some particular group, have ordered it removed from advertisements and displays. Christmas trees are holiday trees; Christmas wreaths and other evergreen trimmings are suddenly seasonal greens. School principals, shake and quiver wanting desperately to appease and not offend. So, they order Christmas dances and bazaars to be called multi-cultural holiday events.

It's not only Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza under attack. The list goes on and on. Prayer in school, at public meetings, and athletic events is deemed inappropriate and ordered stopped. A cross atop a hill in California, honoring our war dead is suddenly offensive to someone, and attorneys hurry to take up his "plight." The name of God has been quietly removed from our monuments, and stricken from past presidential speeches. Demands have been made that the words, "In God We Trust" be removed from our currency.

But, those crying for the removal of those words don't seem to have a problem spending that money. Cries for ridding the Pledge of Allegiance of the words "Under God" continue, while others want "Laus Deo" or "Praise be to God" removed from the Washington Monument. Yet, I can't help wondering how many of these same attorneys, while representing a suspect on trial for murder or rape, will stand before a court and tell a judge and jury that their client should be shown mercy because he's found God?

Our judges, the ACLU, our government agencies and those who have taken the anti-Christian stand are hypocrites. Why? Aren't these judges, attorneys and heads of government agencies enjoying the days off being celebrated in honor of God? Don't they close their offices on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Good Friday, Passover and Hanukkah? I don't understand how they can ban the name of God, rule against religious symbols, prayer in school, and the Ten Commandments, and then treat themselves to days off for Christian and Jewish Holy Days.

Since they profess these very things to be offensive, and near criminal in nature, they should be hard at work on Christmas, Good Friday, Hanukkah, and Passover. They should be working on Sundays as well. After all, it was God who set aside the seventh day for rest, thus making it religious, and therefore by their own views and rulings, offensive.

Our U. S. House of Representatives recently passed a resolution recognizing Ramadan, and the Muslim faith as one of the great religions of the world. Our own politicians can recognize Ramadan, a Muslim time of fasting, and the Muslim religion, but ignore the Christians and Jews of the world. Strange, isn't it? Our judges, attorneys, and politicians stand united against a Christian God, Christian and Jewish Holy Days, yet fall to their knees in recognition of a Muslim God and day of observance.

This is just one more wake up call sounding for America, but how many of us are listening to, or watching what is happening around us? With the rulings already handed down, how long will it be before the cross atop church steeples is ruled offensive and ordered taken down? How long before the name of God is ordered removed from public announcement boards outside our churches?

Will the ringing of church bells be halted because someone is insulted by their ringing? It seems that with each passing day another case against God, Christmas, and Christian and Judeo symbols is brought before a court. Is it only a matter of time before the ACLU and their clients begin to demand changes to our religious services in our churches, or seek to ban them altogether? Will they try to put a stop to prayer in our homes? Will the efforts of the ACLU, and judges who side with them, eventually bring a death sentence for Christmas?

While doing research for this article I came across a commentary by Bill O'Reilly from December 3, 2002, regarding the ACLUs assault upon Christmas. The following is what Mr. O'Reilly had to say:

Using tactics the Taliban would admire, the ACLU has imposed the following on the American people. In Covington, Georgia, the word "Christmas" has been removed from the public school calendar because the ACLU threatened to sue. In Pittsburgh, the ACLU objected to special parking put aside by the city for citizens to observe a nativity scene loaned to Pittsburgh by the Vatican. In Brow Bridge, Louisiana, the ACLU wants St. Martin Parish to take down all nativity scenes assembled in any church. In Billings, Montana, the ACLU has petitioned officials in Custer County to ban the nativity scene altogether.

So you get the picture. It may be Christmas time, but don't display images of Christ or His parents in public, or the ACLU may sue. This, of course, is fascism, not freedom.

In 1870, President Grant made Christmas a public secular holiday, and the federal government gave workers the day off. The reason was a holiday to honor a man, Jesus, whose philosophy that all men are created equal and that one should love your neighbor, helped the founding fathers of the United States craft the Constitution. By almost all accounts, our system of laws and justice is based on Judeo-Christian philosophy, which puts human rights ahead of government wants. Our system here was not developed according to Islamic law or Buddhist thought. It was modeled after the tenets of Judaism and Christianity, and that's the truth.

However, philosophy is different from religion, and our founders made sure that no religion could be imposed by the government, and all religions were to be tolerated unless they violated civil law. Thus the secular holiday of Christmas, honoring the birth of that great philosopher, Jesus, in Bethlehem. But, according to the ACLU and some other misguided Americans, because some people believe the philosopher Jesus to be God, then all the people should be denied seeing His image displayed in a public setting. Does that make any sense at all?

If the government really wanted to force religion on Americans, it would make Easter a holiday, but it is not. Easter is a purely religious observance, as is Hanukkah and Ramadan. Thus they are not federal holidays and never will be.

For more than 200 years, the United States celebrated Christmas without the intrusion of the ACLU and the courts. Was the country damaged during that time by the celebration? Did anything bad happen? Were anybody's rights violated? Of course not. The no spin truth is that certain pressure groups, like the ACLU, are now using the Constitution to push an agenda that is harmful to many Americans. Christmas is a celebration of peace and brotherhood and generosity. The symbols of Christmas should be admired and displayed with pride.

To Mr. O'Reilly I say, may God Bless you for your candid thoughts and sharing them with us.

I'm not a religious zealot, and you won't find me standing in front of audiences, thumping my breastbone and telling people that I'm a religious or holy man. I'm far from it. In fact, I'm suspicious of those who take every opportunity to tell the world just how religious they are. My language, on occasion, will make an Old School Marine Corps Drill Instructor proud, and some of my views probably conflict with those of the church. I'm just one voice within the majority (over 85%) of the population, who happens to believe in God, and sees nothing wrong with offering a measure of respect and thanks to Him, regardless of where it might be. And that includes the display of the nativity scene in public.

So, there are just a few more things I'd like to say to the ACLU, and those who support them. Your attack on my religion, the religious beliefs of my friends, and the symbols of our religions is something I'd expect in a communist country. Well, this is the United States of America, a land where I've been guaranteed, by the Constitution, freedom of religion. That means I'm free to worship as I see fit, and that same freedom applies to you, your clients and the judges you argue before.

It seems that your goal is to destroy everything that's good and decent in this country, beginning with God. I'd like to remind you that God was a part of this great big world long before people such as you came into existence. God isn't a four-letter word. The name of God isn't an obscenity, scrawled like gang graffiti across the faces of buildings and over sidewalks. But you act as though He is no more than a piece of trash. A piece of trash you want eliminated from the heart and soul of every citizen across America. Not only do you want to rid our nation of God, but also everything associated with Him, including Christmas. You are willing to destroy the season of love and happiness enjoyed by the majority of our population simply to satisfy what I believe to be your communist points of view.

It's time for everyone across America to stand united and defy the ACLU, the judges and all of those who have taken up the fight against God, Christmas, it's symbols and everything it represents. And, it is possible to strike back and let them, and the rest of the world, know exactly how you feel. During the coming weeks people all over America at public meetings, school events, and especially at all sporting events should stand up, and in one voice say, "Merry Christmas. God bless us everyone."