Most Christmas seasons I’ve written blog posts about some religious freedom legal case involving a local or state government preference for Christianity during the holiday. Why haven’t I written many posts on it this year? I get sick of repeating myself and it seems like after each case, each year, we go back to square one somewhere else the next year. I needed a post this month so here are a couple of examples that show why some religious conservatives refuse to understand the first amendment.
A battle over a nativity scene in a small town just south of Beaumont has residents fired up. Orange, Texas has displayed the nativity scene for decade, but when an atheist group wanted to display next to it, the city manager had the scene taken down.
“It listed several different holidays including Christmas. It says regardless of what holiday you’re celebrating, the Orange County Atheists would like to wish you a happy holidays,” said Josh Hammers of the Orange County Atheists.
Hammers said he called the Orange city manager to ask about putting his sign up. The city manager said no and would not allow it.
The city manager moved the nativity from a public spot to this privately owned park causing a debate amongst the citizens.
It’s made Hammers pretty unpopular.
“We’ve received death threats,” he said.
Here is the usual timeline of these disputes. A non-Christian asks to have their beliefs included in a Christmas display on public property. The local authorities say no and it may go to court or the government people decide to not allow ANY displays if it means being inclusive. Then they cry about religious liberty being infringed.
The people with other beliefs who asked to be included then are subject to scorn and in some cases death threats because they want to be included in the holiday display.
This is EXACTLY why we have the first amendment. EVERYONE should be included if they ask to be or there should be no displays at all.
Being rejected or getting death threats is an attack on religious liberty. Having to share a holiday display with non-Christians is not an attack on religious liberty
Then we have this story also from Texas:
Two-foot-tall representations of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus – but no wise men – were set to take up residence in the Texas capitol Wednesday as a Lubbock state representative and a Chicago law firm specializing in religious issues endeavored to put Christ back into a public Christmas.
While nativity scenes in other locales, including Orange’s city hall, have generated controversy, the capitol display apparently violates no laws. This year marks the second time the creche has been erected in the capitol.
The privately funded exhibit will be located in the South Gallery of the Capitol Extension Building, an area that traditionally has been set aside for artwork, photography, history and other public interest exhibits. Such exhibits are required to have a legislative sponsor.
Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Texas chapter, said erection of the capitol nativity scene is “unfortunately legal.”
“The numbers of religions in Texas today are innumerable, too many to count,” Burke said. “To put a nativity scene in the rotunda, implying it represents the religion of all Texans, seems a bit disrespectful to other religions. But as long as the state government is not sponsoring it and the rotunda is routinely made available for exhibits, we can’t really have a beef.”
Reducing the Nativity Scene to nothing more than an art exhibit is one of the ways religious conservatives circumvent the law. In private, they slap themselves on the back because they were such good Christians to get the scene in such a prominent place.
Notice how displays need to be sponsored by a legislator yet the Nativity scene isn’t being “sponsored” by the state?? Up is down and black is white in their fantasy world.
Religious conservatives also use this same kind of false narrative when dealing with crosses in public parks. The cross never means religion it only means a generic symbol for dead people but we all know what they say behind our backs.
Religious conservatives only worry about religious liberty when it looks like their religion is losing favor or can’t be exclusive.
That’s why they refuse to understand the 1st amendment and I will have to repeat this kind of post again next Christmas.