The War on Christmas is Real

Photo courtesy of Fotolia

Photo courtesy of Fotolia

I once heard then-U.S. Rep. and now-Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., say something that I quite liked: “I’m a Christian, an American, a conservative and a Republican — in that order.” It quite nicely sums up how I feel.

Even if you are liberal, you can substitute liberal and Democrat in and be fine.

Every year around this time, we hear stories about a “War on Christmas.” I am not going to defend and personally guarantee every “War on Christmas” story that someone, somewhere has publicized. But we do know that public schools have banned celebrations or mentions of Christmas. Many companies and public institutions formally encourage individuals to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” In 2005 Lowe’s began labeling their Christmas trees as “holiday trees.”

In many cases, efforts to prevent Americans from publicly celebrating Christmas are dealt with before legal action occurs.

In two specific Texas cases, legal action has occurred:

• In Plano in 2003, three elementary school children became victims of religious viewpoint discrimination in Morgan v. Swanson, what is now referred to as the “Candy Cane” case. These young students brought holiday goodie bags with candy canes that had religious messages on them and they were threatened by school officials. That case is ongoing although an initial victory has been won by the “pro Christmas” faction over the school district for infringing on the constitutional rights of the three students.

• A federal judge found the Katy school district had “unlawfully discriminated” against students in a variety of ways related to celebrating Christmas.

• A Frisco school district PTA email before Thanksgiving outlined a list of “Winter Party Rules” banning any references to Christmas or any other religious holiday. The email even banned the colors “red and green” and outlawed Christmas trees at school parties. Thankfully, State Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, fought these rules and the issue appears to have been satisfactorily resolved. For a time, it appeared that First Amendment Rights in America did not exist in the Frisco district.

The silent majority of America is Christian. I would guess 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas (or other traditional winter holidays) in some form or fashion. An individual or family can decide on their own if the Christmas season should be celebrated with a religious element to it — most people do, but in America you have that Constitutional right to choose for yourself.

In my Catholic family, we have always celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, with midnight Mass, with prayer, with family traditions that have continued through the generations, but also with the Christian virtues of gratitude, charity and humility.

Who could be against these things?The honest answer is the mainstream media, the Left and the atheist/agnostic movement.

Why?

Christianity threatens government.

In the liberal mind, government should be all powerful. Christianity, to Christians, stands above government. Apart from it. Uninfringed by it.

This is a threat.

Christianity threatens liberalism because Christianity preaches self-restraint, personal responsibility, morality. Christians are not perfect — we are all sinners. But we strive for perfection.

Who could be against that?

One of the finest traditions in America is Christmas.

While small children may occasionally get caught up in the materialism of the season, they will quickly learn that giving a gift brings you more happiness than receiving one. That virtue, in and of itself, has tremendous, life-changing power and impacts our society positively every single day.

If a public institution, say a city or a public school, bans Christmas traditions in the name of political correctness, Christians and Americans should stand up and say no.

In Texas, the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, HB 308, the Merry Christmas Law, a bill that protects Christmas in our public institutions by “allowing parents, teachers, students and school administrators” to celebrate Christmas in public schools “without fear of censorship, litigation, or persecution.” An outstanding Texas nonprofit, Texas Values, has done excellent work in this area and recently launched MerryChristmasTexas.com to help educate Texas about their rights under the law.

Let’s not complicate things unnecessarily. Christmas is a good thing. It should be celebrated, by those who wish to do so. It should certainly be allowed as the Constitution unquestionably protects free speech and freedom of religion.

In that spirit, as a Christian and an American, I would like to wish you a wonderful and Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Ted Cruz’s Moment in Time

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

The decision of whether to run for president of the United States is unlike any that a human being faces.

And yet Rafael Ted Cruz, the junior U.S. senator from Texas, faces it. Not now. Not even soon. Next year probably. Certainly by Thanksgiving 2014.

Imagine the discussion a candidate and his or her spouse will have. How hard will it be? It is 20 hours a day for two years. Calls with your spouse are scheduled. You will see every fleabag motel in the early states. You’ll freeze, eat terrible food, get sick, miss family events and rarely enjoy any private time.

And then, if you are the one Republican out of 10 who runs the table, lucky enough to become the nominee, you probably will face a 40 percent chance of beating Hillary Clinton (if she runs).

Should you win, you can look forward to eight years that turns you prematurely gray. You can never go grocery shopping alone again. You may have an assassination attempt. Everything you’ve ever done will be viewed in the worst possible light. Your life will be turned upside down.

Why, yes, I think I’ll sign up for that.

Anyone who thinks they should be president has a rare amount of personal confidence. Without that assuredness, success in politics would never have been possible in the first place.

Ted Cruz is certainly confident. And he has reason to be.

He is universally recognized, even by his harshest critics, as brilliant. Take the cream of the crop, put them at Princeton. Then take the cream of that crop, and put them at Harvard Law School. Then take the cream of that crop, and let them clerk for the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He exists in a frighteningly small intellectual universe.

Is that enough to win?

The odds that he wins the presidency in 2016 cannot be much worse than the odds facing him when he ran for the U.S. Senate. He started off below the margin of error in the polls, with no fundraising and little support. He relentlessly worked it — doggedly traveling the state, winning over workhorse activists and volunteers with his passion, his intellect and his ability to convince them that he would fight.

I see nothing that would prevent him from doing that writ large.

In politics, the races you don’t run are perhaps more important than the races you do. Had Hillary Clinton run against President Bush in 2004, she likely would have lost. But she didn’t run, and with her own patience and persistence she may be the first female President in 2017.

Ted Cruz is on a rocket ride right now. We don’t know where this is headed.

But we do know a few things:

• Longevity in the U.S. Senate is more likely to hurt you politically than to help you. Senators accumulate hard-to-explain votes, while catching Potomac Fever. Recent examples are John Kerry and John McCain. Short-timers such as Barack Obama knew this.

• The grass roots is clamoring for an authentic, smart, articulate, conservative fighter. Good men like Mitt Romney, Bob Dole and John McCain were unable to motivate the Republican base, which is job No. 1. Cruz’s ability to motivate the base is unquestioned.

• The political cost for Cruz running in 2016 is minimal. He is a newly elected U.S. Senator, not facing re-election until 2018. Even if he fails, he will grow his support and fundraising while becoming a more well-known national figure. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney all needed to run twice to win the GOP nomination.

I do not subscribe to the view that Ted Cruz is so Machiavellian that he has, eight months into his term in the U.S. Senate, already decided to run for president. I believe that he senses this may be his moment, but it is too early. He will continue to travel the country, and Texas, to sell conservatism to the masses. He will continue to do the work. He will pick his fights. He will not shrink from tough battles.

Obama determined that 2008 was his moment. Had he not run then, he may never have become president.

Increasingly, it appears to me that 2016 is Ted Cruz’s moment. Does he know it?

© Copyright 2013 Matt Mackowiak, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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