menorahs

Perfectly valid (even if rather bizarre) Christmas wars stories in Texas and South Florida

Perfectly valid (even if rather bizarre) Christmas wars stories in Texas and South Florida

Not all Christmas wars stories are created equal.

The most important ones have something to do with religious believers of all kinds attempting to carve out some space in what is usually called the "public square." We're talking about government or business controlled environments ranging from public schools to shopping malls, from county court house lawns to public parks.

In other words, we're talking about battles over what the Peanuts character Linus can or cannot say in a public-school holiday musical or in a poster about such an event. Here is a case in point, care of The Washington Post, complete with the perfectly normal term religious liberty being wrapped in scare quotes. You know the drill. Let's start with Charlie Brown asking, "Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

Linus, his thumb-sucking and blanket-toting best friend, speaks up.
“Sure, Charlie Brown,” he says. “I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”
Then the character recites a lengthy Bible passage, from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, when angels descend upon the flock-tending shepherds to announce the birth of baby Jesus.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord,” Linus says. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
It is that quote, extracted from the special’s most overtly Christian scene, that has thrust a Texas middle school nurse’s aide, the school district she works for and the state attorney general into a very public -- and unseasonably bitter -- debate over what “religious liberty” means inside the walls of the state’s public schools.

You can almost write the rest of this story yourself, can't you? 

The key, this time, is that the story actually includes large chunks of material about some of the laws that frame this debate, such as the Merry Christmas Law in Texas that was passed to clarify some U.S. Supreme Court material on such matters.

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Are all Jews preparing for Thanksgivukkah the same way?

Many years ago, I worked at a newspaper — let’s leave the name out of this discussion — that ran a Hanukkah feature, with lots of art, about an exhibit of menorahs. The interesting wrinkle was that some of these menorahs were quite modern or even postmodern in design, including several that specifically violated ancient Jewish laws about how to make, and how not to make, menorahs.

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