The following news report popped up in my neck of the woods (Northern Indiana):
Federal lawsuit filed for Concord Community Schools’ use of nativity scene
“The ACLU is filing a federal lawsuit against the Concord Community Schools for their use of the nativity scene in their annual Christmas concert.
The federal court documents say the nativity scene violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and that the plaintiffs are entitled to their nominal damages.”
There seems to be a recurring theme over what can and can’t be said/done in a government-funded public school setting. This is mainly because the separation of church and state concept has grossly been overapplied and misinterpreted. This school’s display of a nativity scene during their holiday celebration is in no way evangelistic. In other words, it is not put there to proselytize anyone. It is put there duing a Christmas celebration because it is historically significant to the event. Whether Christ’s birth is literal or not, whether it was divine or not, and how it applies to our eternal souls – is NOT the point of this display. Even the debate over the historocity of the nativity as an actual event isn’t the point. Whether it happened or not, the nativity is not culturally and historically significant and worthy of inclusion in a holiday celebration. If you think about it from a secular position, it is no different than kids singing about Santa Claus. Whether Santa is real or not doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that Santa is an important tradition in regards to Christmas in the same sense that the nativity is.
There really doesn’t seem like there should even be a debate about this. This is no different than the display of a painting of Benjamin Franklin in the school’s hall. Benjamin Franklin is a historically significant individual, the nativity is a historically significant event. We cannot erase history to protect our feelings. Just because the nativity offends some people doesn’t mean we should cater to their insecurities. Should we also remove all mentions of the holocaust as that would offend some Jews in our history classes? Of course not.
What this boils down to is a non-Christian choosing to attend an optional program where they know a Christian holiday will be celebrated, and then being offended when exactly that happens.
The beautiful thing about our country is that we are a melting pot. Many different kinds of people all living together. That means from time to time you are going to hear something that disagrees with you… and that is ok. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies of all time: The American President. Michael Douglas’s democratic President Andrew Shepherd utters this unforgettable truth: