The Solstice is upon us, both winter and summer. To honor this seasonal change, I’ve decided to set my journalistic instincts aside (almost) and replace them with a cup of cocoa, some holiday music, and a Santa hat. In other words, the following post is an opinion piece with some facts, some anecdotes and some over-sized, good-spirited, inflatable fun. Here in the United States, it is very difficult to avoid the holiday buzz during the last few weeks of December no matter what you do or don’t celebrate. More specifically it’s difficult to hide from Christmas.This megalithic holiday hangs like celestial mistletoe over the entire month of December with tiny little elves waiting at every turn to plant sweet peppermint kisses on your cheek.
As the wheel turns, the merry month of December is now upon us. ‘Tis the season for many things – one of which is a swell in public religious discourse. Is the Christmas tree really a Pagan tradition? Have the holidays become overly commercialized? News outlets and blog sites are brimming with articles discussing and dissecting the traditional American holiday hullaballoo. One of these media side-shows is the negotiation of the Christian nativity scene. When located on private property, the crèche causes no alarm. However nativity scenes are often found in public spaces such as parks, squares, and government buildings.
While the Obama administration has considerably toned down White House observances of the yearly National Day of Prayer, a day that many claim had been hijacked by conservative Christian organizations during the previous administration, several groups have been asking if it’s even legal for our government (built on a principle of separation between church and state) to have a mandated day on which to call citizens to prayer. Especially when that call to prayer has been arguably couched in a predominantly Christian context within our multi-religious society. Well now a Wisconsin US District court judge, in a case brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has just ruled that the law authorizing the day was unconstitutional. “US District Judge Barbara Crabb said the federal statute violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion. She issued a 66-page decision and enjoined President Obama from issuing an executive order calling for the celebration of a National Day of Prayer.
Reminder: We are in the midst of our first annual Winter Pledge Drive! If you value this blog, its mission, and its content, please consider making a donation to keep The Wild Hunt open, ad-free, and updated daily. Spread the word, and thanks to all who have donated so far! The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, you may remember them from the Green Bay Nativity case, is demanding that the Indianapolis Public School system change its current web access policy which bans access to “occult”, “Wiccan”, “Voodoo” and “mysticism”-boosting sites. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation, responding to complaints from concerned Indianapolis taxpayers, has sent a letter of strong objection to the Indianapolis Public School system for its policy of censorship of web content that promotes or provides information about “atheistic views.”