Supremes reinforce secularization in government school programs

Posted by on Oct 13th, 2010 and filed under Defense. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

The U.S. Supreme Court banned the first amendment from government schools Oct. 4. In its refusal to hear an appeal of Stratechuk v. Board of Education, South Orange-Maplewood School District, the high court upheld a ruling that religious songs have no place in public school holiday performances.

School programs may include non-holiday religious music, and holiday religious music may be taught in classrooms.

Michael Stratechuk, the father of two in the school district, claimed the district’s action deprived his children of their rights under the Establishment Clause: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The test used by the District Court in analyzing the Establishment Clause was the Lemon test. This test has its origins in the Supreme Court 1971 case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. The three prongs of the test address whether the government’s action lacks a secular purpose, whether the government action has the principal or primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and whether the government action involves an excessive entanglement with religion. If any of these prongs are satisfied, the government action violates the Establishment Clause.

Stratechuk’s attorney, Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, claimed the school district was “disapproving or acting hostile towards religion,” rather than maintaining neutrality. Courts have disagreed.

Maybe the government has it right. After all, the Puritans banned Christmas celebrations in the 1600s. They could not find Dec. 25 in the Bible. They recognized the date derived from Saturnalia, the Roman heathens’ wintertime celebration.

From 1659 to 1681 it was a crime in Massachusetts to celebrate Christmas “by forbearing of labor, feasting or in any other way.”

In 1827, an Episcopal bishop lamented that the Devil had stolen Christmas “and converted it into a day of worldly festivity, shooting and swearing.” In 1855 some Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches were closed on Dec. 25 because “they do not accept the day as a Holy One.” Christmas was recognized in just 18 states in 1859.

Later Big Media and retailers teamed to take Christ out of Christmas. With drawings by Nast, Moore’s “Visit from St. Nicholas,” Berlin’s White Christmas and Black Friday, Mary’s baby was soon replace by Santa, gifts, snow, presents, peace, gifts, warm fuzzy feelings and presents bought at national chains that advertised through Big Media.

A few years ago Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly, started a “Christmas Under Siege” campaign. It included a chart on his Web site of stores that use the phrase “Happy Holidays,” along with a poll that asks, “Will you shop at stores that do not say ‘Merry Christmas’?”

At the same time, Fox News’s online store was promoting its “Holiday Collection” for shoppers. Among the items offered to put under a “holiday tree” was “The O’Reilly Factor Holiday Ornament,” as Adam Cohen of the New York Times pointed out at the time.

It is time to do away with Christmas as a religious holiday, at least on Dec. 25. With it can go winter breaks at government schools, children can sing whatever they like at winter festivals—so long as it is non-religious—government offices and businesses can stay open another day or week, party revelers can celebrate the ancient Roman god of sowing. People might even take a moment to reflect on how materialistic and secular we have become.

As for Christ, Christians can celebrate his birth anytime. I vote for April 2.

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