This article originally appeared on WND.com
Guest by post by Bob Unruh
There’s a new freedom for Americans to celebrate Christmas this year with religious symbols, from Nativities to stars to red and green decorations and more, according to a prominent legal team that has fought for years for those rights.
It’s because the so-called “Lemon test” now is gone from American jurisprudence.
Mat Staver, the chief for Liberty Counsel, explained in an online posting, “The First Amendment protects religious viewpoints from being censored by the government. Religious symbols and displays consistent with the Christmas holiday season are appropriate and constitutional on public property, including in public schools.
“Christmas is a recognized federal and state holiday. It makes no sense to pretend it does not exist or that the holiday should be stripped of Christian symbols and themes.”
In past years courts had used the “Lemon test,” the creation of the Supreme Court in 1971, to restrict displays because of their viewpoint and content.
It was “designed to be a universal way to resolve cases arising under the First Amendment Establishment Clause, and whether they involved government expression of religious speech, such as legislative prayer, public funding that flows to religious groups, religious displays, etc.”
But rulings based on that opinion frequently distorted the Free Exercise Clause and Free Speech Clause and removed religious symbols from the public square, Liberty Counsel explained.
The change came when the high court in 2022 canceled the precedent in favor of a new practice of reviewing “historical practices and understandings about the holiday”.
That change came in a 9-0 decision, won by Liberty Counsel, in the Shurtleff v. City of Boston case. That struck down censorship of Christian viewpoints within the public forum the city of Boston had created for flag raisings.
The Supremes said Boston violated the Constitution by censoring a private flag in a public forum open to “all applicants” solely because the application referred to it as a “Christian flag,” Liberty Counsel explained.
Then came Kennedy v. Bremerton School District in which the Supremes ruled a school district violated a coach’s constitutional rights by firing him for prayer on the football field after games.
“Today, the law is clear,” the organization reported, “The First Amendment does not permit any city, state, or the federal government to eliminate religious viewpoints regarding a federally and state recognized holiday.”
Already, Liberty Counsel said, it has worked to remove unconstitutional bans on Christmas holiday symbols and decorations, remove bans on students wearing red and green colors and restoring Nativities to public properties.
The organization explained, “Christmas holiday bans … violate the U.S. Constitution and the Free Speech and Exercise Clauses by showing hostility toward Christianity. It does not matter what the motive might be, the First Amendment does not permit government entities to eliminate the traditional elements, symbols, or expression of a federally and state recognized holiday such as Christmas.”
Copyright 2023 WND News Center
This is a Guest Post from our friends over at WLTReport.