ACLU plays Grinch in Davey Crockett’s backyard

Robert Knight Senior Fellow, American Civil Rights Union
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It’s Christmastime, so the ACLU is doing what it does best — hounding public officials to turn observance of this Christian (and federal) holiday into a winter solstice thingy — or else.

On Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, the ACLU of Tennessee dropped a letter bomb on all public school superintendents in the home state of freedom fighter Davey Crockett, warning them not to celebrate Christmas.

The group’s website explains it this way:

“The letter reminded school officials that holiday celebrations focusing primarily on one religious holiday amount to a school’s unconstitutional endorsement of religion.”

Translation: Ditch Christmas — or else we’ll pester you with nuisance lawsuits.

The ACLU’s letter says they “welcome holiday celebrations that teach children about a variety of holidays. We believe, however, that holiday celebrations that focus primarily on one religious holiday can result in indoctrination as well as a sense within students who do not share that religion of being outsiders to the school.”

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU-Tennessee, said, “The founders of the United States believed in the significance of religion. But they also understood that decisions about when and how to practice religion are best left to individuals, families and religious institutions.”

Well, yes, but that did not make them hostile to public observances of America’s majority religion. Christian church services were conducted in the House of Representatives chamber (attended for several years by Thomas Jefferson), and presidents from Washington on down have issued Christmas greetings, so the ACLU’s historic understanding is a bit flawed. Maybe they’ve dusted off their Soviet history books and gotten mixed up.

Here’s more from the Tennessee Grinches: “The ACLU-TN letter cites several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, explaining that ‘While public schools can teach about religion and religious holidays, public schools may not engage in indoctrination. Thus comparative religion courses can be taught but endorsing religious doctrine or sponsoring religious activities is unconstitutional.’”

Lynchburg, Virginia-based Liberty Counsel sent a memo on Dec. 10 to Tennessee school superintendents correcting the nonsense: “The ACLU suggests that any Christmas concert, decoration, or party is a religious activity prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU letter leaves the wrong impression with school administrators and omits key solutions to common concerns about public school Christmas activities.”

The legal rule of thumb, based on court rulings, is that religious songs and symbols are fine if accompanied by at least some secular fare. So, singing the great Christmas music that has blessed the nation for more than 200 years is out unless the kids also sing “Frosty the Snowman” or perhaps “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Litigator.”

A recent Rasmussen survey shows that 92 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas and most prefer saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Most Americans, it seems, have not gotten the ACLU memo on resisting “indoctrination.”

This isn’t the first time that the ACLU of Tennessee has attempted to bully the state’s schools. In 2009, the ACLU sent a threatening letter to the Volunteer State’s schools warning them to make gay propaganda on the Internet available to impressionable kids — or else. No worries about indoctrination there.

In closing, and in the spirit of the ACLU’s cracked version of Christmas, let’s wish everyone “happy holidays — or else.”

Robert Knight is a Senior Fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a Senior Writer for Coral Ridge Ministries.