'Tis the season

Nov. 28, 2012 @ 05:45 PM

Christmas is just around the corner, so it really ‘tis the season for Christmas-haters to be haughty.

One of the latest, and actually one of the more egregious, examples of Christmas-hating-gone-haywire occurred within the borders of our own state. Officials at Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton told a student organization earlier this month it couldn’t use the word “Christmas” in its announcement about a fundraiser involving the sale of Christmas trees.

Selling Christmas trees was OK, the school said. Calling them Christmas trees wasn’t.

Members of the BEST Society created an announcement about the fundraiser to be distributed through various campus channels by the college. The title of the announcement was “WPCC Club Sells Christmas Trees!!” And “Christmas Trees” was used initially in publicizing the group’s efforts. But the community college changed the wording in the headlines and titles to “holiday trees,” subsequently telling BEST student leaders the school couldn’t assist in marketing the trees because Christmas is a Christian event.

(Incidentally, the BEST Society is probably one of the least evangelical groups on campus. According to the organization’s Facebook page, BEST is an acronym for Building Energy Sustainable Technology; organizers proclaim the group was “formed to help reduce our carbon footprint on mother Earth.” Those are the kinds of organizations “green” college administrators typically fawn, not fret, over.)

BEST Society members ultimately teamed with attorneys from the legal coalition ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) to challenge the change after potential fundraiser supporters complained. ADF rightly pointed out that changing the text of the “Christmas Trees” announcement violated the free speech clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Attorneys told the school, “WPCC’s removal of all references to Christmas in BEST’s advertisements because of the religious message conveyed in the advertisement is a blatant viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”

One of ADF’s lawyers, Matt Sharp, was quoted as saying: "It's ridiculous that anyone would have to think twice about using the word 'Christmas' as part of a Christmas tree sale. Not only is it perfectly constitutional to use the word 'Christmas,' it is unconstitutional to prohibit use of it. This is another perfect example of the immense misunderstanding that far too many college officials have about what the First Amendment truly requires."

Given the proclivities of our universities, our courts and even the rulers in our nation’s capital when the Constitution is involved, the sky’s the limit these days when it comes to putting the lid on Christmas and religious freedom. We’re happy the absurdity stopped where it did at WPCC. After all, the proceeds of the BEST Society’s sale were earmarked to support Angel Tree, a group which provides Christmas gifts to children. WPCC could have also devilishly slammed the door on angels and children in the process, believing protection from those horrible people who believe in the spirit of Christmas more important than just about anything (except the spread of the gospel of diversity, now more important on many campuses than even a good education).

But hey, it’s early in the season. Those of us who are OK with “Christmas” will probably get Scrooged again.