Saturday, December 1, 2012
Terry Mattingly On Public Christmas Displays
Well, I do not think that the point is that such religious displays HAVE to be held. What is significant is when they are prevented from being placed on public land. The issue is not that we have to make way for such things but when clearly established tradition (in this case nearly 60 years) is overturned, Christians get touchy. Anyone would. It is like being told you can do something for most of your adult life and then suddenly being told, "No, not now. Not anymore."
I am not sure that the issue ever was that churches demand for the creche or cross or commandment tablets to be displayed. I, for one, would think that to insist upon that right out of the blue would constitute a somewhat suspicious challenge to precedent. However, when the precedent is allowing or approving and then suddenly to disallow such religious displays, that does constitute a narrowing of the religious rights once exercised and a denial of the tradition of the past.
As only one Christian, I can understand that the government may not want to grant such rights given the present climate and the judicial precedents there. What I cannot understand is ending such long standing tradition or abridging the rights of Christians to do what they have always done. That smacks of a whole nother thing (as a friend used to say).
Surely it would be better to grandfather in such long standing traditions and to make future practice more discrete. Unless, of course, the desire is secretly to banish religion to the barren nether region of private feeling.
That said, I do surely agree with Terry that it is a mixed blessing when courts have decided that the creche or cross can remain because they carry no religious significance. When that happens, it might be time for the churches to refuse to allow them to be used unless and until that religious significance is acknowledged and affirmed....
Just thinking... and you know how dangerous that can be!