December 10, 2016

War on Christmas Rages in Indiana

Knightstown, Indiana from the air, looking sou...
Knightstown, Indiana from the air, looking southwest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The small town of Knightstown, Indiana is facing a church-state lawsuit because the city-sponsored Christmas tree has a cross atop it. This is a church-state issue because governments are not supposed to promote religion or give preferential treatment to one religion over others. Of course, this suit will be heralded as the latest example of the fictional war on Christmas that Fox News uses every year to raise money for various conservative causes.

Nobody will stop to think about how the plaintiff in this case is not objecting to the city having a Christmas tree and paying for it with public funds. Nobody will bother to note that he isn't telling anyone that they cannot celebrate Christmas as they see fit. The only thing he's objecting to is the use of a cross at the top of the government's tree. And all he's doing is attempting to ensure that his local government follows the law.

It really doesn't matter that the city has had a cross on top of the tree before. It also doesn't matter that the person named in the lawsuit appears to be on his own with no support from his neighbors, aside from the ACLU who filed on his behalf. What matters is that the city has chosen to decorate their Christmas tree with a cross and that someone finally objected.

From Fox 59:
The suit alleges that the Latin cross “is the preeminent symbol of Christianity, representing the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus.” So if the display is religious, the suit argues, it has no business on town property.
Yep, that is indeed the issue here.

But was the plaintiff really harmed by the cross on the tree, as the suit alleges? While this may admittedly seem like a stretch, I'm inclined suggest that any citizen is harmed when his or her government does something illegal. Didn't he just bring this suit because he was offended?
In a statement to FOX59, Joe maintains that being offended is not the issue, the First Amendment is. Joe says that amendment specifically prohibits the establishment of religion and Knightstown’s government display does just that.
Again, offense really isn't the issue even though I'd suggest that any citizen should be offended when his or her government breaks the law. The issue here is that the government appears to be breaking the law.

The Knightstown resident who said that he would park a car covered with crosses near the tree if the city removes the cross has the right idea. Assuming that this is a legally parked personal vehicle and not a government owned one, there would be no problem with this. The residents who plan to hand out crosses near the tree also have the right idea. Assuming these crosses are not purchased with public funds or forced on anybody, more power to them.

It is a real shame that towns across the U.S. continue to violate church-state separation so routinely. I applaud those involved in making it harder for them to do so.