December 16, 2004

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
The Christmas (ban) that almost wasn't

Peggy Noonan has advice for the Democrats:

"Stop the war on religious expression in America. Have Terry McAuliffe come forward and announce that the Democratic Party knows that a small group of radicals continue to try to "scrub" such holidays as Christmas from the public square. They do this while citing the Constitution, but the Constitution does not say it is wrong or impolite to say "Merry Christmas" or illegal to have a crèche in the public square. The Constitution says we have freedom of religion, not from religion. Have Terry McAuliffe announce that from here on in the Democratic Party is on the side of those who want religion in the public square, and the Ten Commandments on the courthouse wall for that matter. Then he should put up a big sign that says "Merry Christmas" on the sidewalk in front of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on South Capitol Street. The Democratic Party should put itself on the side of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and the fact of transcendent faith."

My question: Just where is this "war" being waged, and by whom? The Alliance Defense Fund, a sort of Evangelical ACLU, has launched a "Christmas Project" in order to "provide legal support in expected disputes over Christmas celebrations"; it says that "600 school districts nationwide have already been contacted to clarify the role of schools in laws concerning religious expression." But it doesn't say how many schools are actually banning Christmas, or whether there have been more challenges in recent years. (Pundits are going to keep bringing up the Maplewood-South Orange ban, but what else?).
This is classic straw-man politics: Create a phony enemy, and then demand that your rival stand up to him.
One other question for Noonan: What in the world is "the fact of transcendent faith"? Did she mean "the fact that many people have transcendent faith," or "that in which people have transcendent faith is a fact"?

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