Federal court rules Christians can talk about Jesus!
Every year it seems somebody comes up with another “politically correct” effort to deny Christians their right to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Last year, it was the ACLU and the City of Pittsburgh in a dispute over the constitutionality of reserved parking near a crèche placed in the city’s downtown area by several churches. This year, the anti-Christian Left took aim at a church in Broward County, Florida.
You may remember Broward County. That’s the place where voters were unable to properly punch a hole in a piece of paper to cast their vote for a Presidential candidate. The same county that kept the entire country on the edge of its seat for weeks triggering a free-for-all that ended up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yep. The land of the hanging chad refused to let the Calvary Chapel participate in a “Holiday Fantasy of Lights” festival at a public park because their display proclaimed “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. That’s right. The church was refused a spot in the holiday display because it conveyed the rather obvious message that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ.
The good folks at Calvary Chapel didn’t take their rejection lightly. They enlisted the help of the Rutherford Institute and took the matter to court.
John W. Whitehead, President of the Rutherford Institute, spoke for Christians across the fruited plain when he said: “Many Americans would agree with Calvary Chapel that Jesus is the reason for the season, and the First Amendment protects their right to publicly proclaim that belief.”
The Rutherford Institute’s attorneys argued that the First Amendment protects religious speech, just as it protects secular speech. Whitehead argued that: “Government may not, in the name of political correctness, single out the views of religious persons for discriminatory treatment.”
That would seem to be as apparent as Jesus being the reason for the season, but not to the card punchers in Broward County. The case ended up before a federal court, where a judge ruled that Calvary Chapel did indeed have a First Amendment right to extol Jesus as being the reason for the season.
When some of our Founding Fathers insisted the Bill of Rights be added to the U.S. Constitution as a condition of ratification, I’m quite certain they did not intend for the First Amendment to prohibit Christians from expressing their religious beliefs. In fact, the amendment clearly states that Congress shall make no law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
In a year when the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was tossed from the bench for exercising his constitutional right to freely exercise his religion, it is refreshing that the federal judiciary has reaffirmed the right of Christians to remind their fellow man that Christmas is more than a retail marketing tool, it is in fact a celebration of Jesus’ birth.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution obviously put a high priority on religious rights, giving them top billing as Amendment Number One. It is chilling, therefore to think that wacky Left-wing groups and spineless public officials such as those in Broward County would attempt to deny a majority of Americans their ability to freely express their religious beliefs. Given the spotty record of federal judges, it is downright scary to depend on the black-robed set to protect that right.
At least for this season in Broward County, Florida, Jesus still reigns as the reason for our celebration. And while Christians everywhere must remain vigilant and fight to protect their religious rights, it is comforting to know that in the end, Christmas isn’t between us and the courts – it is between us and God. And that is a victory that is assured.