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Christmas censorship has a long history

By the Liberty Counsel

       The Liberty Counsel has been working on a number of cases involving religious viewpoint censorship of Christmas. In places such as city halls and schools, from inside homeowner associations and a nursing home, a courthouse and a park - the "grinches" of Christmas are still at work.
       The war against Christmas is nothing new. This antagonism towards Christianity was also found under Communism. Christians in the former Soviet Union exhibited bravery and courage confronting Communism's anti-Christmas campaign. One person recalled how the young people would go out in the streets and sing Christmas carols, knowing that if police heard them, they would be arrested.
       During one of the nearly 1,000 radio addresses he wrote and presented prior to becoming president, Ronald Reagan described Christmas under the former Soviet Union. In an effort to resist Christians, Communist leaders secularized a favorite Ukrainian Christmas carol, "Nova Radist Stala" (Joyous News Has Come to Us). The original song began with these words: "The joyous news has come which never was before. Over a cave above a manger a bright star has lit the world, where Jesus was born from a virgin maiden..."
       Communists feared the public outcry that would follow a complete ban on Christmas, so they began to slowly secularize the holiday. The first rewrite of the song began: "The joyous news has come which never was before, a red star with five tails has brightly lit the world." The second rewrite went further: "The joyous news has come which never was before. Long-awaited star of freedom lit the skies in October [the month of the Revolution]. Where formerly lived the kings and had the roots their nobles, there today with simple folks, Lenin's glory hovers."
       In Communist Romania, Rev. Geza Palffy, a Roman Catholic priest, delivered a sermon in 1983, protesting against the fact that December 25 had been declared a workday instead of a holiday. The next day he was arrested by secret police, beaten, imprisoned and died.
       Inside and outside the Iron Curtain, Ukrainians never stopped singing: "We beg you our Lord, we pray to you today. Grant us freedom, return glory to our Mother Ukraine." Mr. Reagan ended his broadcast: "I guess we all hope their prayer is answered." Indeed it was.
       The former Soviet Union eventually began banning Christmas commemorations. St. Nicholas was replaced with "Did Moroz," or Grandfather Frost. This Stalinist creation wears a red cap and long white beard of Santa Claus, who delivers gifts to children on New Year's Eve. Christmas trees were banned, however people continued to trim their New Year's trees. Communism sought to fold all Christmas celebrations into a New Year celebration.
       The secularization and censorship of Christmas is nothing new. Christianity Today in 2002 reported that in the Vietnamese province of Dak Lak, children's choirs were forbidden to sing "Silent Night." From 1969 to 1997, Christmas was banned in Cuba. Such examples are endless.
       "This war against Christmas is nothing new," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel. "Repressive forces have always had the same goal - to first secularize and then to eliminate Christmas. We need to be perpetually vigilant and grateful every year for the freedom to celebrate."

       The Liberty Counsel describes itself as an "international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics."

Posted 12/23/15; Opinion: General)

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