Each holiday season the ACLU receives anonymous Christmas cards from concerned citizens who believe we are fighting a “war on Christmas.” Many of these are lovingly hung on the wall of our office, but it saddens us that we are unable to respond to the senders, who don’t seem to realize that we are on the same side.
Take for instance the sender who writes “if you choose not to swear to God on a bible, or repeat the words ‘one nation under God’ when reciting the pledge of allegiance, that is your right, but it is also my right to do so!” We couldn’t agree more!
Or the card inscribed, “It is my constitutional right to display my Christmas tree, manger, etc.” This is absolutely true, and we would hope to get a call from anyone told otherwise so that we could defend their right to religious expression.
It is often misunderstood that the ACLU fights for religious freedom for all Americans, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, or any other spiritual persuasion. While we will always fight government endorsement of any specific religion, we have fought and will continue to fight just as hard for the individual religious rights of citizens.
To clear things up, the ACLU has never told any store they should not say “Merry Christmas.” We are not trying to make Christmas a secular holiday. We are in no way opposed to Christmas or the Christian faith. In fact, we file many suits in defense of the religious rights of Christians. Just a month or so ago, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit defending the right of a Christian church near Pittsburgh to operate a ministry to the homeless. There are many more examples on our web site of the ACLU going to bat for Christians, including some specifically defending observances of Christmas.
So here’s a holiday message from the ACLU to those who celebrate Christmas: make the most of your right to religious expression! Put up the biggest Christmas tree you can find! Light your crèche so bright the electric meter spins out of control, and sing your carols at the top of your lungs. Mostly, please stop stressing about the fictional war on Christmas, enjoy the time with your family, and accept the warmest of wishes from your friends, the defenders of religious freedom at the ACLU.