It's a war on the Constitution, not on Christmas

Thursday, December 15, 2016
Peter Heck - Guest Columnist

Peter HeckThe ACLU can't destroy the divinity of Christ with their insolence, but they can destroy our Constitution with their ignorance – if we allow it.

One of the most bizarre traditions of the holiday season for me is to watch those who assail the purpose and meaning of Christmas become apoplectic when someone weary of their politically correct antics refers to the behavior as a "war on Christmas."

It seems to me that if you don't want to be accused of warring against Christmas, you should stop attacking people's public celebration of it.  Stop attempting to deprive the community you live in of its collective expression of the significance of the holiday just because you don't share their convictions. When you do that kind of thing, don't be surprised when people point out your petulant childishness.

Knightstown Christmas crossNow, while I am not one who scours the nation looking for holiday scrooges to be offended by, when it happens in my backyard to people I care about, and it happens under the pretense of legal arguments that are silly and vapid, it merits my attention. And that's exactly what has happened in the Indiana town of Knightstown, where city officials have chosen to remove a Christian cross from atop the town's Christmas tree because the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a local resident who was intimidated by the sight of a cross.

Their embarrassing legal complaint, authored by ACLU front man Ken Falk, reads: "The cross is the best known symbol of Christianity and Knightstown's prominent display of this symbol represents an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Assuming that Mr. Falk isn't a fool, he knows how absurd that statement is. He knows that the town of Knightstown has no ordinance compelling religious worship of its citizens. He knows the town of Knightstown has no law that mandates church attendance or tithing to God's Kingdom. Knightstown has not established a religion for its citizens. Nor is their tacit approval of a cross on public land anywhere close to the constitutional equivalent of Congress declaring an official national Christian denomination all citizens must belong to – the precise offense of Britain that the Establishment clause was authored to prevent – regardless of how politically motivated courts may interpret it these days.

Surely having actually studied the history of the First Amendment, Falk knows that what he posits actually violates the very intent of the Founders – like Benjamin Huntington of Connecticut, who demanded during the writing of the First Amendment that it be "made in a way as to secure the rights of religion, but not to patronize those who professed no religion at all."

Mr. Falk's own legal argument is premised to do the very thing the authors of the First Amendment warned against.

What the town of Knightstown displayed was not an establishment of religion. You can have an intellect rivaled by garden tools and recognize that's a legally and constitutionally ignorant conclusion.  If the ACLU had any shame, it would be humiliated to assert it.

What Knightstown had was a public expression of its community values and religious beliefs – and that's okay for them to have. Now, if you don't share those beliefs, that's okay too. You don't have to, because the Constitution forbids the government writing a law that forces you to.

You can be an outsider. You can be different. And in America your rights are protected from majority coercion to violate your unique conscience. But only in the mind of a narcissistic lunatic would those rights include some bizarre ability to deprive the majority of their public expressions just because you take offense.

Governments can and should reflect the values of their people. If you don't share those values, there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that allows you to harness the power of government to silence them.

It's sad that city officials caved to such a foolish claim. Sad not because Jesus lost – He's already won and His church is triumphant.  Sad because we've become so dumb about our own Constitution.

Because while the ACLU can't destroy the divinity of Christ with their insolence, they can destroy our Constitution with their ignorance – if we allow it. So how about we not?

Peter Heck ( is a speaker, author and teacher who hosts a weekly radio broadcast on WIBC (93.1 FM) in Indianapolis, Indiana. This column originally appeared on his website.

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