Monday, December 20, 2004
E.J. Montini with the Arizona Republic has a few rational words of wisdom. Grinch gets himself a lawyer: "The folks at the Center for Arizona Policy wanted to make sure that our public schools don't ignore the religious traditions of Christmas and decided that the most humble, pious and Christian way of getting their point across was to threaten a lawsuit. The center sent out an eight-page memorandum to Arizona's school superintendents and school board members stating in part that 'many school officials have removed nearly all references to Christ from Christmas and have begun a new 'tradition' of violating the constitutional rights of students and teachers to seasonal religious expression within public schools.' The memo claimed to be 'a resource to clarify this important area of law and allow school districts and school officials to avoid needless litigation.' Never were truer words spoken, at least the last two: Needless litigation. advertisement The Center for Arizona Policy, along with organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund and TV talking heads like Bill O'Reilly have convinced themselves that Christmas is 'under siege.'" "Peter Gentala, the lawyer who wrote the Center for Arizona Policy's memo, told me, 'There is a concerted effort out there to introduce a hyper understanding of the separation of church and state and to use it to change Christmas traditions.' Unless most Christians have quit going to church and now conduct their services at department stores, I don't see how. In fact, I would have guessed that organizations like the center and the alliance, which tout their conservative religious philosophies, would be overjoyed to have retail outlets drop the word 'Christmas' from their advertising or promotional campaigns. Aren't these the same people who complain each year about how our emphasis on crass commercialism is ruining the true spirit of Christmas? If anything, they should be encouraging more businesses to follow the example of Target and Macy's. As for the public schools, they can no more 'steal' Christmas than they can prevent a child from praying in a classroom. Faith, like prayer, is internal. In parochial school the nuns taught us that faith can't be stolen, it can only be given away. It's not prayer some want, however, but the chance to proselytize, which isn't the same thing."