Church, State Should Remain Separate

We Jews thought it was tough being a minority. Apparently it’s tougher being the majority.

There’s an actual “war” on Christmas. That’s what Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson of Fox News tell us. The supermajority is under siege. It’s time to take back the country, they say. And a vocal “majority” is being given a platform and bullhorn by Fox News to fight for Christmas. The message to us minorities is clear: Don’t be Scrooge. Enjoy Christmas.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

The underlying belief is if we bring Christmas out of the closet and into the Wal-Marts and place a cr èche on every square inch of public property we will somehow slow the onslaught of the secularists (or Jews, Muslims and other non-Christian religions) who are destroying American culture by believing in the separation of church and state. That’s the message given nightly on the Fox News Channel.

So are O’Reilly and Gibson right? To paraphrase O’Reilly, the spin stops here!

What makes America great is the separation of church and state. Our Constitution protects the minority and prevents the establishment of a state religion. This is a precious ideal and one worth fighting for.

If there is anything that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq has taught us, it is the danger of mixing religion with government. While our heroic men and women are fighting to create a democracy in Iraq where the rights of minorities will be respected, the home front is rife with religious fanaticism and the blurring of the lines between church and state.

The supermajority needs to have empathy for the minorities in America and not lump us into those evil secularists that Fox News personalities love to condemn. We understand that many in the supermajority would, if the courts allowed them, spread Christianity throughout the land — in public schools, at City Hall and in the legislature.

The problem is where you draw the line. Don’t trample our coveted “separation of church and state.” It is this constitutional guarantee that separates us from the Afghanistans and Irans. Without respect for this separation, where would the line be drawn? It’s issues like this that localities all over the nation struggle with. In our own area, Creve Coeur is presently dealing with this topic. When does a “holiday” display become an endorsement of religion? Sensitivity must be exercised when dealing with these concerns. We would prefer religious holiday displays be kept off public property. There are many private-public locations where the holiday can be represented.

So should Christmas flex its muscles? If you are a minority in the United States, you already know the answer. It does!

Christmas is a great time of year. You can’t escape it even if the retail store workers don’t say, “Merry Christmas!” The spirit of giving is everywhere. People are nicer — especially at work. They bring goodies into the office. They share gifts. There’s a festive atmosphere. And the Christmas lights and trees are a wonder to behold. It’s great driving down a street and seeing homes ablaze with Christmas wonder. The operative word is “homes” not city halls or fire departments, etc.

If you are a minority in America this month, you know it’s Christmas. If you listen to Fox News, the supermajority can’t seem to find Christmas. To Jews and probably other minorities, that seems impossible.

Everyone should enjoy Christmas. But not everyone has to celebrate Christmas.

And it’s a slippery slope to have nativity scenes on government property. We don’t want Hanukkiahs at city hall, either.

The reason is because there are many places in America where diversity doesn’t exist. And, it’s unfortunate, but if allowed, the lines between religion and government would be blurred. You would think that our government supports Christmas if left unabated. Was it really a requirement to be on the Supreme Court that Harriet Miers be a good Christian? Once again, where is the line drawn?

So let the Wal-Marts wish us a Merry Christmas. We’ll even remind people they can buy “The War Against Christmas” by Mr. Gibson. It would not make a great Hanukkah present, however. And we wish Mr. O’Reilly, Mr. Gibson and the supermajority a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy Holidays.