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In 2019, There’s Still No Room At The Inn For Christmas (Washington Examiner) December 25, 2019

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds.
In the Biblical story, the first Christmas occurred in a stable because there was no room at the inn for Joseph and Mary. Sadly, in many quarters, there is still no room at the inn for Christ and Christmas as elites seek to cleanse the public square of anything religious.

This year, legislators in Wisconsin debated whether theirs was a Christmas tree or must now be a holiday tree. (Are there other December holidays symbolized by a tree?) Meanwhile, a West Virginia mayor sought, ultimately without success, to remove a long-standing Christmas parade in favor of a “winter parade.” A student in California was told that Joy to the World might be too religious for her piano assignment, and perhaps she should try Jingle Bells instead. Finally, this year Starbucks threw up its corporate hands and settled for “Merry Coffee” on its holiday cups. Ho Ho Ho!

One of these battles in the larger war captured a key issue that deserves our attention. Local officials in Rehoboth, Delaware, ordered a nativity scene that had been on the town square since the 1930s to be removed in the name of being more inclusive. “We didn’t want to be exclusive,” the mayor explained.

I would have thought that being inclusive was mathematically a matter of addition, not subtraction. Wouldn’t making room at the inn, or in the public square, for additional holiday expressions besides Christmas be “inclusive?” But apparently, in the strange world of liberal politics and secular elites, we have to exclude to be inclusive.

This same misguided notion has appeared in the raging debate over income inequality. Thomas Piketty and others who have led the inequality debate argue that it’s no longer enough to help those on the bottom economically move up, but it is necessary to bring down those at the top. It is neither right nor fair for the wealthiest individuals to hold such a disproportionate amount of money, they say, so we need a wealth tax, not just an income tax, on the super-rich. The goal, then, is no longer to help some rise up the ladder of economic success but to bring others down.

The upside-down, Alice-in-Wonderland notion that fairness requires not only including some, but also excluding or limiting the rights of others, is certainly not called for by the Constitution. The First Amendment says only that there shall be no “establishment” of religion, but courts have long ruled that nativity scenes, Hanukkah menorahs, and other religious symbols may be displayed on public property as long as they do not actively promote a religion. The First Amendment is all about freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Christmas is still a federal holiday in the United States.

The people, as opposed to political elites, do not demand it either. A 2017 Pew Research Center study shows that nine in ten people say they celebrate Christmas. More recently, a Florida university poll showed that 72% still prefer “merry Christmas” over “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings.” Several books, including Why Americans Hate Politics by E.J. Dionne and Culture War: The Myth of a Polarized America by Morris Fiorina, rightly point out that it is really the politicians and elites who foster our culture wars, not ordinary people.

We would do well to remember the view of the founders of our country that a free society requires virtuous people, who, in turn, depend upon religion. John Adams said it well: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

We should make room for religion at the inn in our holiday celebrations, not attack and exclude it. Inclusion by exclusion has no place in America.

To read the column at the Washington Examiner:


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