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ACLU Against Free Speech if it’s Religious Speech

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As is typical for this time of year, the ACLU is shaking down towns and schools to keep them from acknowledging Christmas. Despite the fact that everyone gets off December 25th and the only holiday that is being celebrated is Christmas (sorry Kwanzaa is a joke), the Republic will crumble if that fact is acknowledged.

The latest battle took place in Berkley, Michigan where the ACLU threatened a lawsuit if the city did not remove a nativity display from public grounds. For the most part, the episode is exactly what has played out in most other fronts of the War on Christmas. One interesting anecdote, however, stands out.

One of the compromises that was suggested to the ACLU was the creation of a “free speech zone.” This would be an area outside most government control where citizens could put up holiday displays of their own choosing. The ACLU was dead set against this idea. Their rationale? Citizens would use their free expression to support Christmas. The “defenders” of the Bill of Rights stood against free speech.

The First Amendment is clear, while establishing a state religion is illegal, so is prohibiting free expression of religion. The First Amendment requires institutional separation, not public atheism.

If someone wants to put up a Hanukkah display, fine. If someone wants to put up a Kwanzaa display, they need to find a holiday that’s not a complete invention. A diverse and pluralistic society doesn’t seek to squelch cultures; it seeks to respect them all. The ACLU isn’t interested in a diverse and pluralistic society.

This nation celebrates the same holiday on December 25th, that holiday is called Christmas. As the name implies, it celebrates the birth of a person who did, in fact, exist in history. It is undeniable that this person has a profound impact on the world and history. Many people, even atheists, celebrate a secular version of this same holiday.

It is time for the ACLU to stop rewriting our institutions, our culture, our history, and our traditions. A free nation doesn’t need a band of elite lawyers to tell us how to behave in public. It certainly doesn’t need an aristocracy of lawyers and jurists using government power to keep us from exercising our freedom.

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • Lisa

    Well said. As a person who celebrates Christmas, I find it insulting that I cannot see displays for my faith. Yet, yearlong on the news and elsewhere we talk about the celebrations (Rahmandan, Kwanzaa) of other religions and cultures. Why can’t everyone practice tolerance and understanding and use the opportunity to learn about the differences between us? How is looking at a nativity scence offensive?

  • Maurice

    The idea of a free speech zone is cool. Even an atheist like me would agree to it.

  • Arch Conservative

    The First Amendment is clear, while establishing a state religion is illegal, so is prohibiting free expression of religion. The First Amendment requires institutional separation, not public atheism.”

    Kudos to you John. You hit the nail on the head. However you title should have used the word Christian in place of the word religious to be more accurate.

    The ACLU does not make a habit of attacking expressions of other religions as they do attacking Christianity.

    The routinely, purposely misinterpret the true meaning of the first amendment to further their far left communist Christophobic agenda.

    I have only one thing to say to the ACLU and their enablers. In the words of Mr. Garrison from South Park……..

    “Merry fucking Christmas!”

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle


    The ACLU does not make a habit of attacking expressions of other religions as they do attacking Christianity.

    If you want to make a point you go after the big target, not the smaller ones. Christmas is standing in for all religious holidays.

    As for Christmas displays, the ACLU does have a point when it comes to displays on public or government property. That involves the equivalent of a state endorsement of and spending of money on religion.

    Have they tried to go after private religious displays?

    Dave

  • Leslie Bohn

    Exactly the point, Dave.

    I know a perfect place for that Nativity display: A church!

    But public property is partly mine, and public money comes from me, and I am not a Christian.

    A religious display at City Hall or in a public park is an endorsement of a specific religion by the government, which is unconstitutional and also fundamentally immoral.

  • Arch Conservative

    C’mon Nalle…….you know better than your last comment would have us think about you when it comes to the ACLU.

    I’m sure you aware of all the times the ACLU has sued because some student at a public school had the audacity to mention Christianity in their valedictorian speech or something similiar. No reasonable person can conclude that a student expressing their own beliefs in a speech at school constitutes state endorsement of religion. But the ACLU concludes this because they are not reasonable.

    And as for nativities on public/government property……….Well we all know the ACLU would have know problem with jewish, muslim or any other display as long as it’s not Christian.

    You’re smarter than that Nalle.

  • Leslie Bohn

    Mr. Bambenek:

    Please cite the case you refer to wherein the ACLU opposed a student’s right to his/her own private religious expression. This is contrary to the organization’s stated goals and their actions in dozens of cases, including the ongoing case in Frenchtown, NJ where the ACLU is defending a student’s right to sing a religious song at a school-sponsored after-school talent show. They also repped a student in Michigan in 2004 who opposed the censorship of religious expression in personal entries in the school yearbook. They quite famously repped a street evanglist who was fighting for his right to preach on ther streets of Las Vegas a couple of years. The ACLU is stalwart in defending private religious expression. Their website lists dozens of cases like this.

    Their position is the opposite of what you portray.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The ACLU does not exist in a vacuum. Its efforts are nearly always the result of someone’s complaint. And they do a lot more than bring suits against nativity scenes – quite a few of their efforts might well appeal to a libertarian on the right, if the person looked at the facts, which seem to be a secondary consideration when the right discusses the ACLU.

    To imply that they are anti-Christian is a deliberate distortion. Of course, they have been a favorite target of the right for a long time. This doesn’t make the fine and admirable work they do any less worthy.

    Their current efforts primarily focus on the rights of defendants and prisoners, and the rights of citizens to know more about such issues as NSA spying, and detainee abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere. These may offend you politically as well, but I’m glad someone is fighting this fight, and I would imagine it is taking up a lot more of the ACLU’s time and money than the one case you cite.

    And yes, using public tax money and government property for a religious display is improper, and someone should speak out about it. I don’t think Christmas is suffering from a lack of attention, and the ability of religious Christians to express their faith is not affected. This is just another hot-button issue for talk radio to get their audiences riled up about, pointlessly.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    If anyone would like to take a look, here is a link to the ACLU’s Freedom of Religion and Belief page, which covers a great deal more than nativity scenes.

    P.S. – John, your headline needs an apostrophe.

  • RedTard

    “This is just another hot-button issue for talk radio to get their audiences riled up about, pointlessly.”

    Then why does the ACLU keep pushing it? Answer, they’re a tool in the fight to destroy religion by a very tiny angry vocal minority of atheist idiots.

  • SHARK

    J. Bambineck: “…A diverse and pluralistic society doesn’t seek to squelch cultures; it seeks to respect them all.”

    and then…

    J. Bambineck: “Kwanzaa is a joke. […] …If someone wants to put up a Kwanzaa display, they need to find a holiday that’s not a complete invention.”

    Bambineck wouldn’t know IRONY if it bit him on the ass.

    ======

    Oh, and Mr. Bambineck, BILL O’REILLY called and he wants his hypocritical jingoisms back.

  • D’oh

    Nalle is right, Shark is astute, the article is more red meat for dittoheads and O’Reily fans.

    Funny how the “War on Xmas” starts earlier and earlier every year.

  • SHARK

    Gotta run.

    I’m late to put up yard lights, whack down a tree, and go WAY overextended on my credit cards in order to celebrate the birth of an ancient mythological being.

    “Jesus died for the sins of our economy.” —Shark

  • http://blogcritics.org Anonymous Hero

    Kwanzaa is not a culture, it was invented by an FBI stooge in the 70s.

    Kinda like sweetest day.

  • RedTard

    “Kwanzaa is not a culture, it was invented by an FBI stooge in the 70s.”

    Every religion and holiday started somewhere. It’s the intent that matters. If it makes people happy to celebrate, so be it. It costs me nothing. If the intent is only to antagonize those who celebrate christmas then I would find that despicable.

  • JustOneMan

    IMO – The ACLU in reality is no more that a left wing Jewish Organization seeking to destroy any vestages of Christianity from a nation which was founded by an overwhelming majority of white Christians..ironically the ACLU is the KKK of the times!

    JustOneMan

  • Leslie Bohn

    JustOne Man:
    Don’t allow any of the organization’s actual activities to dissuade you from that opinion, JOM. Like the cases I cited in Comment 8 wherein they supported the rights of specifically Chritians to express their specifically Christian religious ideas.

    Or their stated objectives, one of which is to preserve religious freedom.

  • zingzing

    yes, JOM–blame the jews! that’s great!

  • D’oh

    JoM, I hear Prussian Blue is looking for a road manager. You and Brodie are top of their list.

  • Arch Conservative

    All the rats have crawled out of the woodwork to heap praise upon the ACLU.

    Sorry guys but I don’t buy any of your bullshit about the ACLU’s noble intentions and efforts.

    I guess I will just go on continuing to believe “my lying eyes.”

  • Leslie Bohn

    Mr. Conservative:

    I have cited three cases that contradict your statement. Another poster has directed you to a site describing dozens more. What do your eyes see that makes you believe that the ACLU routinely, purposely misinterprets the true meaning of the first amendment to further their far left communist Christophobic agenda.?

  • http://lowether.blogspot.com Sam Jack

    There’s nothing more fun than The War on Christmas. Unfortunately this year, most people are distracted by issues of actual importance.

    Last year there was a book out, O’Reilly and Fox gave it round the clock coverage. But not so much this year.

    I almost missed the entire War on Christmas! That’s why I depend on people like you, Mr. Bambenek. You’re just so very single-minded in your pursuit of the evil-doers.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I’m sure you aware of all the times the ACLU has sued because some student at a public school had the audacity to mention Christianity in their valedictorian speech or something similiar. No reasonable person can conclude that a student expressing their own beliefs in a speech at school constitutes state endorsement of religion. But the ACLU concludes this because they are not reasonable.

    Yes, sometimes the ACLU goes way overboard, and in some cases it has to do with religion.

    However, that is NOT the case when it comes to keeping religious displays off of public property.

    If you want to advertise your religion, pay for a billboard. Plenty of churches already do it. Don’t do it with my tax dollars.

    And as for nativities on public/government property……….Well we all know the ACLU would have know problem with jewish, muslim or any other display as long as it’s not Christian.

    Bullshit. And if they didn’t have a problem with it I still would. The only alternative to keeping religious displays off of public property is allowing them ALL on public property, in which case I’m putting a 16 foot tall depiction of the roman god Priapus on the courthouse steps with his 6 foot penis jutting out for all to see.

    You’re smarter than that Nalle.

    Not just smart enough to see through the ACLU, but smart enough to see through you as well, AC.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Kwanzaa is not a culture, it was invented by an FBI stooge in the 70s.

    1969, but close enough and dead on as far as the complete bogusness of it.

    Dave

  • Bill B

    There’s some good stuff here:

    Dave

    If you want to make a point you go after the big target, not the smaller ones. Christmas is standing in for all religious holidays.

    As for Christmas displays, the ACLU does have a point when it comes to displays on public or government property. That involves the equivalent of a state endorsement of and spending of money on religion.

    pretty much all that needs to be said.

    Shark

    “Jesus died for the sins of our economy.” —Shark

    is just absolutely precious.

    D’oh

    Funny how the “War on Xmas” starts earlier and earlier every year.

    is also a delight.

    ————-

    Then there’s John, red and arch carrying that christmas flag into battle.

    It’s exceedingly funny how the minions of the christian majority can be worked into a tizzy over non-sense.

    Here, let me put it into bushspeak for ya.

    They’re (the aclu) keeping it free over here (public property) so we can be free over there (private property).

    Make it more clear for you?

    —————————–

    It strikes me as either very insecure, or completely tone deaf of or indifferent to the cultural/religious makeup of our country, when christian folk cry foul when they can’t put up they’re nativity scene’s on public property.

    As if they need public validation. Maybe it’s just the evangelical in ‘em.

    Not to mention taxpayer issues and constitutional interpretations.

    ——————–

    Merry Christmas & happy holidays to all.

  • S.T.M

    The Lord Mayor of Sydney two Christmases ago refused to have the council put up Christmas displays – I believe on her orders – because it might offend people who were non-Christian.

    The local tabloid did a front page picture of her done up as The Grinch.

    This year, she’s already out there drumming up Christmas … I think there was a shot of her in the paper with a choir the other day.

    Amazing what a bit of political incorrectness will do to political correctness.

    That kwanzaa sounds like a load of bullshit, BTW. I looked it up on the net.

    What a rort that is. Look on the bright side, though.

    At some point, you might get a free holiday.

  • RedTard

    “Then there’s John, red and arch carrying that christmas flag into battle.”

    I don’t give a rat’s ass what holiday anyone celebrates or refuses to celebrate. My opinion is that anyone who proclaims that a scene of 3 robed guys, a chick, and baby in a basket offend anyone is a lying sack of shit.

    Nalle exemplified the attitude that irritates me perfectly. He said he would like to put some ridiculous statue of a large penised god up just to show those darn christians.

    That’s how we lose freedoms. Some morons just can’t stand what other people do with the limited freeedoms we have left so they act in extreme ways trying to abuse the freedom.

    They’d rather no one have any freedoms than someone else have freedom to do something they don’t agree with.

  • Bill B

    Red

    All I can say is you just don’t get it. Those freedoms you so rightly cherish are the exact freedoms that can be endangered or compromised by a government tacitly endorseing any one religion over another by allowing it’s celebration on public lands with taxpayer funds.

    Your sentiment about our so-called limited freedoms is just another straw man. Anyone can put up a nativity on private property whenever they want.

    You dismiss Dave’s argument because you have no answer for it. Why should government allow a nativity and not allow Dave’s penis god? Or a Menorah? Or a statue of Abraham? Or a likeness of the Hindu Goddess Durga? Or a scene depicting the birth of Zoroaster? A statue of Buddha perhaps?

    You may be for the all of this but I for one find that we enjoy ample freedom to worship as we see fit, and present displays till our hearts content – on private property.

    Just curious but along with your nativity could we also have a Christmas morning mass on the town hall steps? Maybe a group christening along with it? Where do you draw the line? – if you even have one.

    Do you reserve the same outrage for prohibitions in public parks where you may not be able to barbeque, ride a bike, play ball or let your dog run loose? These prohibitions are often designed to protect the public interest and most communities have different facilities specifically for different activities.

    I fully understand we draw a fine line, but it seems to me to be drawn accurately when it forbids religious displys on public lands.

  • RedTard

    Bill B,

    I think you misinterpret my point as well. It’s not about where the lines are drawn it’s about why they’re drawn in the first place.

    Take a very dissimiliar situation in a school with the clothing issues. When students have freedom to choose what to wear most choose something very appropriate. A few choose to let their pants hang down below their ass, to wear gang colors, or have offensive language (or picture of the above penis god) on their shirts. The school makes rules to prevent those things but those same assholes find other ways to be offensive under the new rules and continue the tit for tat battle until everyone loses their freedom to wear what they want and is forced to wear a uniform.

    The school example is about anti-authority types rather than anti-religion types, but the same principles can be applied to each. I despise those people and the rules that come about because of their actions.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Nalle exemplified the attitude that irritates me perfectly. He said he would like to put some ridiculous statue of a large penised god up just to show those darn christians.

    Priapus is NOT ridiculous. He’s a powerful paganistic symbol of fertility which I use to repel Wiccans.

    And you completely and utterly missed my point, which is that if Christian displays can be on public property then the only justifiable course is to allow ALL religions including my Priapic cult equal access to that public property. That being the case, the best course is to keep public property unadorned by the trappings of any religion.

    You want to promote Christmas or Priapusmas – put up a billboard or put it on the front lawn of your house or church. The ACLU won’t hassle you at all.

    Dave

  • Bill B

    Red,
    We probably agree more than we disagree on this when we get right down to it.

    It’s not about where the lines are drawn it’s about why they’re drawn in the first place.

    Other than the tax payer funds angle and the crowded city hall lawn (as Dave points out), that I suppose we agree to disagree on, our differences are in the sentence above.

    I agree with much of your argument in the school garb issue, and for things as (in my mind anyway) inconsequential as that I’m all for freedom and those who are out of line should pay the price. The answer is not to homogenize everyone. It’s usually the path of least resistance as it’s easier for the powers that be to instuitute a uniform code than to deal with the class clowns.

    But this is about taking a step toward furthering the will of a largely evangelical, self righteous bunch who need no help in imposing their religious views on others, even if it’s just symbolic. Narrow religious values are already way too involved in our everyday life, and most often not on a voluntary basis.

    So yes, in matters such as this I believe in the need for a line to be drawn.

    You say why does there even need to be a line, so should I then interpret that as an endorsement on your part of the examples I cited re mass on the town hall steps coupled with group christening?

    Whether or not it’s likely is not the point. Is it OK with you? And if so I can keep going all the way to state sponsored religion. If you disagree with state sponsored religion than you do have a line, you just draw it differently.

  • Franco

    This is not some violation by the Federal Government indorsing a religion. It is about a community who decided to put up a nativity seen. The city council surly knows the community and its majorities. In this case Christian.

    The last time I check, majority ruled in our great land in the communities.. And as another poster pointed out, what is offensive about a Nativity seen.

    This is about national elite’s politics trying to interfere with communities’ civil rights. It has nothing to do with government sponsoring of a religion. Local and community Nativity seens are part of our history, our culture and our civil rights. We the people need to get a hold of our selves and say “NO MORE”. Nativity seens have been displayed in the US for over 200 years.

    Again I will say this comminutes decision to allow the Nativity seen to be displayed on public property and its erection costs at no expence to the citizens has nothing to do with Federal Government sponsorship of a religion.

    If the ACLU is not humiliated by the American people soon, they will become the new bill of rights and constitution for our land. They have not earned that right. Wake up America.

  • Bread&Butter

    It appears to me that since Christmas is a US federal government holiday that any symbols reflecting that holiday would be allowed on US government property…duh.
    Perhaps the ACLU could just ask the government to remove Christmas as a federal holiday…then everyone would have to work on Dec. 25th…(except the Christians…it’s their religion)

  • BriMan

    More Bambe-crap.

  • daryl d

    I hate to agree with article, but it’s 100 percent right. The ACLU gives true liberals a bad name.

  • JP

    Haven’t posted here in awhile, partly due to the idiocy of some of the writers here. You clearly haven’t read any of the stories cited here.

    How far in the sand can you put your head so that you are this oblivious to reality?

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    I was just roaming through the comments when I saw JOM’s #16 post.

    I know everyone has a right to his or her own opinion, but why do we have to tolerate someone whose opinion is always wrong. Now he’s an anti-semite. Blech.

    The only thing that could possibly save him is embrace the truth in,

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    If it weren’t for the ACLU none of you would have the right to express yourself freely here. Bush would’ve taken away by now.

  • http://www.parttimepundit.com John Bambenek

    And George Bush will eat your children too!

  • Anthony

    I just have to say that the ACLU can go die. They don’t want holiday music, decorations, or anything that has to do with Christmas because it is a religious holiday. They have to be the most atheist group I have ever seen. Please fight against this senseless group who care less about Christians.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    (PS: Political correctness sucks, just like the ACLU.)

  • Sawyer’s Mom

    After reading all the comments to this debate, all I have to say is:

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” Ghandi