Is the ACLU against Christmas or Other Religious Holidays?
Bill O’Reilly, Host of the O’Reilly Factor, and Ann Coulter, JD, Legal Correspondent for Human Events, stated in a Dec. 30, 2009 discussion on the O’Reilly Factor about an ACLU display that was included in the December 2009 holiday display at the Illinois state capitol:
O’Reilly: “This ACLU thing is pretty smart… they say, you know, if you’re a Christmas person we’re on your side. We love religion. We stick up for religion. Of course that’s not true. They try to demean Christmas any time they can… But that’s what they are trying to do here. And how do you react?”
Coulter: “They can say whatever they want to. They’re America’s leading anti-Christian hate group. They’re parachuting into small towns… whenever any town puts up a Ten Commandments display…
Any town ought to put up an exclusively Christmas display. And I don’t mean a Christmas tree, I mean the crèche, because that is an historical matter.”
O’Reilly: “I think the ACLU just wants to annoy people like you and me, Ann, that’s why they did this.”
Coulter: “Yes it does, and let that be a happy message to Christians this season that 2,000 years later Christ is still ticking people off.”[Editor’s Note: Bill O’Reilly has remained Pro at least since his position statement from a Nov. 28, 2005 article titled “Talking Points Memo: Merry Christmas… Maybe,” available at his website.]
“Ten years ago almost everybody said ‘Merry Christmas’ in America, but that’s changed. A legal assault by the ACLU, combined with a media that blatantly promotes secularism, has succeeded in convincing some Americans that the words ‘Merry Christmas’ are inappropriate. This is nuts! It is now time to draw the line… [The ACLU] want an America free from spirituality and judgments about personal behavior.”Nov. 28, 2005
Alan Sears, JD, President, CEO, and General Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), stated the following in his Nov. 15, 2006 article “More Than 950 Attorneys Nationwide Ready to Combat Attempts to Censor Christmas,” available at the ADF website:
“Frankly, it’s ridiculous that Americans have to think twice about whether it’s okay to say Merry Christmas. Thanks to the ACLU and its allies, Christmas isn’t what it used to be. It’s time to repair the damage that such organizations have done to America’s favorite holiday. An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose censoring Christmas.
It’s a sad day in America when you have to retain an attorney to wish someone a Merry Christmas. The fear, intimidation, and disinformation spread by the ACLU and its allies over the years will not be changed overnight. That’s why ADF wants to dispel the myths about religious expression at Christmastime that have prompted wrongful acts of government censorship of religious speech.”Nov. 15, 2006
Brenda LaVelle, Columnist for the Cypress Times, wrote in a Nov. 23, 2009 Cypress Times article titled “Bless the ACLU with a ‘Merry Christmas’ Campaign!”:
“Who is the ACLU? They are the ones suing the U.S. government to take God, Christmas, or anything Christian away from us, here in the United States.”Nov. 23, 2009
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote the following in a Nov. 28, 2006 article “The ACLU Targets Christmas,” available at www.aclj.org:
“The ACLU is at it again. With an outrageous boldness that only they could muster, the ACLU has, once again, set their sights on Christmas celebrations. In their never-ending quest to completely eradicate all things religious from public life, the ACLU’s latest lawsuit is an all-out frontal attack on the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
Let me ask you- when did a children’s Christmas program become ‘an illegal activity’? When did the nativity story and Christmas songs become unconstitutional? This is the outrageous and dangerous charge the ACLU has leveled against a school district in Tennessee. A children’s Christmas program has been deemed to be an ‘illegal act’ because of the ACLU.
Today the American Center for Law and Justice has launched a nationwide campaign entitled ‘Keep HIM in Christmas.’ We want to make sure that Jesus is at the center of this holiday. We want to keep HIM in the nativity scenes, keep HIM in the music, keep HIM as the focal point- and not allow the ACLU to operate as our nationwide censor.”Nov. 28, 2006
John Gibson, Host of the John Gibson Show and author of The War on Christmas, stated in a Dec. 5, 2005 interview with Pat Robertson, a Christian television evangelist, on the Christian Broadcasting Network:
“[S]ince about the 1820s, Christmas has been, the one we know today, a religious holiday celebrated in the home as a family event around children, and that’s the American tradition of Christmas. And that’s what these people [the ACLU] are trying to suppress…
They want Christianity indoors. They want you to go in your church and close the door. They want you to go in your home and close the door. They don’t want any public expression of it, and they’re quite articulate on that point. They don’t try to hide it. That’s what they want.”Dec. 5, 2005
Matthew D. Staver, JD, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, wrote the following in his 2003-2004 article “Don’t Let the ‘Grinch’ Steal This Christmas: Liberty Counsel Goes on the Offensive to Defend Christmas Celebrations,” available at www.lc.org:
“Christmas is coming and so is the parade of horribles – the ACLU, Freedom From Religion, and Americans United For Separation of Church and State. If these organizations had their way, nativity scenes, Christian Christmas carols, and religious symbols would be swept from the public square…
The ACLU has all too often stated its case to the media by mailing a demand letter or by placing a threatening phone call to government officials. This intimidation tactic has been successful. Striking fear into the hearts of government officials has proven an effective weapon to remove nativity scenes and to silence Christmas pageants. The fact of the matter remains that the ACLU is wrong, and it is time we let our elected officials know the truth.”2003-2004
Peter Hannaford, President of Hannaford Enterprises, Inc., wrote in a Dec. 23, 2009 American Spectator article titled “A Blue Christmas for the ACLU”:
“Have you wondered why the American Civil Liberties Union hasn’t been carrying out its usual war on Christmas this season? There is a one-word explanation: money.
In a letter to ACLU supporters, its chief writes, ‘The ACLU was recently notified that our largest individual donor… will not be able to continue his support due to a change in his financial circumstances.’
Thus, the ACLU is deprived of the money with which to mount its usual spate of threats and lawsuits against towns that have the temerity to have Christmas parades or Nativity scenes. Many of the latter have been accompanied in recent years by symbols of other religions, too, but that makes no difference to the ACLU. It’s Christianity they’re after…
As is well known, Santa keeps a list of who has been naughty and nice during the year. On good authority we have been told that, despite its current penurious condition, the ACLU is still on the Naughty list and will get a lump of coal again this Christmas.”Dec. 23, 2009
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in an article titled “Celebrating Christmas in America,” available on www.aclu.org (accessed June 8, 2012):
“In recent years, culturally conservative commentators have declared that there is a so-called ‘war on Christmas,’ and in many cases have claimed that the ACLU is leading the charge. This simply isn’t true.
Religious expression is a valued and protected part of the First Amendment rights guaranteed to us all. Christmas is pervasive in America, and, except when the government is being used to promote religious beliefs, it is entirely constitutional.
While Christmas displays are being placed in front of homes, churches, and businesses across the country, and as carolers go door-to-door with songs of Christmas cheer, these culture warriors say that Christmas is being removed from all public mention and persist with such declarations about a ‘war on Christmas.’
The constitutional rights of people to worship, preach, sing carols, and celebrate Christmas in their churches and with their families and friends — whether in public or in private — is well-protected. The ACLU itself has brought several cases on behalf of people who want to celebrate Christmas. The real question is not whether people can celebrate Christmas (they most certainly can), but whether the government should be promoting religious beliefs and practices (it most certainly shouldn’t).
When the smoke of battle clears, Christmas is completely safe.”June 8, 2012
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provided the following statement on Dec. 23, 2005 in an email to ProCon.org:
“Of course the ACLU is not ‘against’ any religion or religious holiday. In fact the ACLU often defends the First Amendment rights of religious persons and institutions to practice their religion without government interference.
Controversies arise when some wish to promote their favored religious symbols on government property… Homes, businesses, community groups and churches are free to have whatever religious displays they like. Government space, however, belongs to everyone. The First Amendment requires the government to treat all religions equally and to show no preference towards religious people or non-religious people. The First Amendment has allowed many religions to flourish and helped the U.S. avoid many of the religious conflicts that have torn apart other nations.
The ACLU strongly promotes the rights of individuals and religious communities to express their religious beliefs, but recognizes that governments should never become the vehicles for the promotion of one group’s religious beliefs and that government property should not be used for the promotion of religion or non-religion unless it is made available for all beliefs on an equal basis.”Dec. 23, 2005
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), through its Correspondence Manager Diane Barber, provided the following statement in a Dec. 7, 2010 email to ProCon.org:
“The ACLU is committed to defending the religious freedom of all Americans and keeping our national tradition of religious diversity alive and well. To protect religious liberty for everyone in America, however, the ACLU is often in the position of defending the minority from the will of the majority. In some instances, this involves challenging nativity displays or the posting of the Ten Commandments on public property.
We are a nation founded on religious freedom. As such, the ACLU believes our society should be particularly sensitive to the legitimate complaints that government-sponsored displays and other actions that promote religion are offensive and inappropriate to those who belong to minority faiths and to non-believers. The ACLU believes that no person should be made to feel like an outsider by his or her own government.
This in no way infringes upon the rights of individuals — individuals and private groups, after all, have the right to display religious symbols on their own private property. However, the ACLU believes that there are better ways, other than the use of religious displays, for governmental entities to wish their constituents well during the holiday season.”Dec. 7, 2010
Peter Simonson, PhD, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico, wrote in an article titled “Is It OK to Say ‘Merry Christmas?'” at the ACLU’s Take Action website (accessed June 8, 2012):
“Ah, the holidays; the season of generosity, good cheer and heaping helpings of anti-ACLU propaganda.
Every year around this time, the ‘culture warriors’ renew their holiday howls decrying the ACLU’s ‘War on Christmas.’ This ritual of bombast and disinformation misleads many people to believe that the ACLU is on a mission to remove Christmas from the public consciousness…
In reality, the ACLU is a tireless defender of the constitutional right of people to worship, preach, sing carols and celebrate religious holidays- both in public and in private. Have a nativity scene on the lawn of your church? Great! Display a menorah in the front window of your home? No problem. Want to go caroling with your friends? We’ll bring the cookies and cider!
And if the government ever tries to take these rights away, give us a call.
What the ACLU does oppose is the government favoring a specific set of religious beliefs to the exclusion of others. The Bill of Rights establishes that the government should not be in the business of endorsing any one religion. For that reason, the ACLU takes issue when the government sponsors a religious display- not because we are waging war on Christmas or any other religious holiday- but because it’s unconstitutional.”June 8, 2012
Michelle Goldberg, MA, former Senior Writer at Salon.com, wrote the following in a Nov. 21, 2005 Salon.com article “How The Secular Humanist Grinch Didn’t Steal Christmas”:
“[T]here is no war on Christmas. What there is, rather, is a burgeoning myth of a war on Christmas, assembled out of old reactionary tropes, urban legends, exaggerated anecdotes and increasingly organized hostility to the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s a myth that can be self-fulfilling, as school board members and local politicians believe the false conservative claim that they can’t celebrate Christmas without getting sued by the ACLU…
Ironically, when school officials do go too far, the ACLU is likely to challenge them, on the grounds that the government can neither promote nor restrict religious speech.”Nov. 21, 2005
T. Jeremy Gunn, PhD, JD, Director of the ACLU Program on Religion and Belief, wrote the following in his Dec. 24, 2007 Huffington Post article titled “The Real Christmas Grinch”:
“The Christmas Enforcers, who have been selling the myth of a supposed ‘war on Christmas’ for years now… have – really! – started ‘making a list’ of stores that ‘are naughty and nice’…
For these lawyers, it turns out that being a ‘naughty’ store has nothing to do with unfair employment practices or selling products that are harmful to the environment. ‘Naughty’ means that they wish their Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist customers ‘happy holidays’ rather than ‘Merry Christmas.’ (O! Torquemada!)
And for a store to be placed on the ‘nice’ list does not mean that it gives a portion of its profits to the sick and needy. It means having ‘Christmas all over the stores and TV ads.’ Yikes!…
The ACLU wishes a Merry Christmas – quickly, before the phrase is trademarked! – to all those who celebrate the holiday, including the Enforcers. And the warmest of season’s greetings to everyone.”Dec. 24, 2007