Has the “war on Christmas” returned?
Some would say that, yes, to the extent that there ever was a “war” against the language and symbolism of Christmas, it most certainly has returned this holiday season, and it’s worse now than it has been in previous years.
But unfortunately, I think something even more troubling is emerging in our country- - an assault on the freedom of conscience, if you will - - and all Americans should be alarmed by this.
To be sure, this Christmas season has brought about some interesting incidents of religious expression , and not-so-religious expression, in the public square. For example, in the Washington, DC area, the American Humanist Association launched an ad campaign last month, purchasing billboard signage at Metro Rail stops, and on Metro buses, that read “Why believe in a god? Just be good, for goodness’ sake…”
Many D.C-area residents have taken offense to this. And yes, the message is intended to be ‘in your face.” And no, it‘s not an accident that this message has emerged during the Christmas season.
I, however, find the atheists’ message to be amusing and thought provoking, for at least a couple of reasons. For one, there is no religious tradition (not even Judaism or Christianity) that suggests that it is morally wrong for a person to “be good for goodness’ sake.”
Secondly, if God does not exist, then who is to say what is “good?” Determining what is “good” without first believing in an all-good God, quickly becomes a very subjective enterprise, and both religious and non-religious Americans should consider this.
And for these reasons (and others), the atheists’ billboard campaign has made for some engaging discussion on my radio talk show at Washington, DC’s 630 WMAL. Additionally, the atheists’ billboard campaign has spawned a counter-campaign from a Catholic non-profit group in Bethesda, MD. Soon we‘ll have billboards around town that read “Why believe? I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake - - God.” As I see it, both Christians and atheists are exercising their rights to free speech in this situation , and that’s just fine with me.
What is not just fine with me, however, are the disgusting events that have emerged over last month’s passage of several statewide ballot initiatives regarding the re-definition of marriage (especially the passage of Proposition 8 in California). The outcome of these elections has given rise to a whole new level of bigotry among the cultural and political left, and the leaders of the left need to account for it.
Let’s first understand that the government sanctioning of homosexual marriage is an unpopular idea most everywhere in the U.S. - - even in states where liberal Democratic political sensibilities reign supreme. So it was no surprise that, while a majority of Californians voted to elect Barack Obama President, they also voted for Proposition 8 - - that is, they voted to amend their state’s constitution so as to define “marriage” as a relationship between one man and one woman.
And “majority” is an important part of the story. A majority of Black Californians voted in favor of Proposition 8. A majority of Hispanic Californians voted in favor of it. And a majority of Asian Californians, and, yes, a majority of California’s Democrats, voted in favor of it.
Yet, the left has singled-out a religious group - - the Mormons, to be specific - - for ridicule and harassment. After weeks of shouting and picketing in front of Mormon temples around the state, the California Fair Political Practices Commission has now launched a “probe” into “non-monetary” contributions that the Mormon church may or may not have made towards the passage of proposition 8.
The message here, is clear: Americans of faith, especially those Americans for whom their faith leads to a conservative worldview, simply should not have a say in America’s public policy.
The messages of Christmas and Hanukah can survive just fine, even with secular, irreligious messages placed along side them. But attempting to belittle and damage and ultimately silence a minority group - - which is what is happening to Mormons in California right now - - is a different matter altogether.
Americans who care about their freedom to think, and to believe, and to assemble, and to vote as they see fit, should stand in opposition to these attacks. The left is targeting Mormons today - - but tomorrow it could be you or me.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.