Michael Medved

The ludicrous battle over holiday displays at the Washington State Capitol reflects current confusion over coexistence of the nation's Christian heritage and its Constitutional restrictions on religious establishment. The Olympia idiocy also highlights the radical nature of social changes regularly demanded by secularist and separationist militants.

The controversy began when The Department of General Administration (which administers the Capitol grounds) granted permission for private citizens to display a nativity scene and a Hanukkah menorah in a relatively obscure passageway of the third story of the Capitol Building. The "Freedom from Religion Foundation" responded with a notorious, officially approved and nationally publicized sign praising atheism and decrying religion for "enslaving minds and hardening hearts." Subsequent applications poured in for a Buddhist display, a secular Jewish banner, a mannequin of a saint holding a Merry Christmas greeting to atheists, an aluminum pole to celebrate the Seinfeld-invented holiday of Festivus, and a "Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday Display." The most explosive proposal arrived from Topeka, Kansas, courtesy of the militant Westboro Baptist Church, demanding a large sign with a poem proclaiming that "Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell" and condemning the Jolly Old Elf as the source of the nation's moral and economic breakdown.

Overwhelmed with the number of applications and embarrassed by the unwanted media controversy, the Department of General Administration declared a "moratorium" on new holiday displays but allowed the already permitted items (including the Menorah scheduled for installation on the first day of Hanukkah, December 21st) to proceed as planned.

To those who object to any expression of religious sentiment or symbolism on public property, the Washington wackiness suggested the inevitable result of even the most trivial and well-meaning breach in the "wall of separation" between faith and state. According to this reasoning, once you've permitted a nativity scene, there's no reasonable basis for resisting the Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday Display.

This argument ignores the lessons of 200 years of national tradition and settled constitutional interpretation. Those who believe that Christmas symbols and Festivus poles equally challenge the First Amendment establishment clause unthinkingly accept some of the pernicious and prevalent distortions of ignorant political correctness.

My new bestselling book "The 10 Big Lies About America" highlights the distortions behind separationist dogma under the heading of Big Lie Number Three: "The Founders Intended a Secular, Not Christian, Nation."

Michael Medved

Michael Medved's daily syndicated radio talk show reaches one of the largest national audiences every weekday between 3 and 6 PM, Eastern Time. Michael Medved is the author of eleven books, including the bestsellers What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Hollywood vs. America, Right Turns, The Ten Big Lies About America and 5 Big Lies About American Business
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