Two months before Christmas, like clockwork, the Christmas Wars have begun. In the first battle of the 2009 Christmas season, a federal lawsuit has been filed to allow a public Nativity scene in Warren, Mich.
For 63 years, a privately maintained Nativity scene has been displayed on a public median in Warren. Every year, Warren resident John Satawa has filed for and received a permit to display the Nativity.
Not this year. That tradition was abruptly ended by the Macomb County Road Commission after it received a threatening letter from the atheist organization the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The commission, in response, decided to ban the display.
Last Friday, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Satawa against the commission.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, commented, “Every Christmas holiday, militant atheists, acting like the Taliban, use the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ — nowhere found in our Constitution — as a means of intimidating municipalities and schools into removing expressions celebrating Christmas, a national holiday. Their goal is to cleanse our public square of all Christian symbols. However, the grand purpose of our Founding Fathers and the First Amendment was to protect religion, not eliminate it. Municipalities and schools should be aware that the systematic exclusion of Christmas symbols during the holiday season is itself inconsistent with the Constitution.”
The actions of the Macomb County Road Commission are likely the first of many to ban Christian images and symbols leading up to Christmas 2009.