The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


December 12, 2013

The government's role in Christmas

An exhibit including the Christmas Nativity scene opened in the Illinois State Capitol last week, prompting considerably less fanfare than did the first display when it was erected six years ago.

Overtly religious depictions of the holiday on government property are with only few exceptions things of the past after a series of legal challenges in the past several decades ended up being resolved on the sides of those who questioned them.

The scene in Springfield remains largely because it is privately funded and because the rotunda space also offers up displays of the state’s Christmas tree, a menorah recognizing Hanukkah and a sign that celebrates the winter solstice. In other words, it’s a diverse display in which the state subsidizes no favorites.

When it comes to separation of church and state, of course, the Founders who sought to constitutionally protect religion from government intrusion were for the most part stoutly religious men. Ironically, most of them assumed the country to be Christian; their concerns were chiefly that the state not favor one denomination over another.

To that extent, there has been an unmistakable evolution of the constitutional mandates from the intentions of at least many of the Founders.

We are a much more diverse country today than we were at the time of our founding, with a much larger variety of religious points of view.

That frankly is not as simple as it might sound. Non-faith, after all, is based on as much of an unprovable belief system as faith is. A government that rejects religion therefore could in essence be seen as endorsing non-religion in the process.

In the end, the issue is about picking sides. The government ought not be picking any. It ought to be saying religion is an individual’s choice, not the government’s choice.

This is a wonderful time of year, a time when so many of us celebrate the wondrous Christmas spirit of giving and good will — and yes, of believing.

That celebration is joyous and it is ours. It doesn’t need state approval. It is ours. All we ask is that government not interfere.

Text Only
  • 4-15-14 13-Photo, Masters Bubba more than local hero? AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He plays a sexy game of golf, owns two green jackets and -- in what constitutes a show of major respect in these parts --Bubba Watson made rabid Georgia Bulldog fans take a break from spring football to watch some golf this weekend. A

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Leonard Pitts mug ...and this is Overkill News Network Enough, already. Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN ... enough. Put your hands up and step away

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • If I can do it... If I can do this, you can also do this. What I would like to tell you about is being a volunteer driver for the Veterans Administration. I am retired from the electrical trade. I worked as an electrician for 36 years. When I took my retirement some t

    April 15, 2014

  • Allie Kibler mugshot YWCA camp offers fun for kids Each month YWCA members and volunteers are featured highlighting the many facets of our community in which they're a part of. This month, YWCA Youth Director, Allie Kibler shares information on this summer's YWCA Fun in the Sun Summer Camp program. T

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Could LBJ do as much today? Fifty years later, it's hard to imagine the enactment of the Civil Rights Act by today's polarized Congress. Maybe, as the old saying goes, today's fighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small. We Americans fight less among ourselves when w

    April 14, 2014

  • Retiring CCC instructors praise college's growth, direction After more than 35 years of service to Clinton Community College, we would like to offer some pre-retirement observations about the college: its past, its present and its future. When we arrived at the college in 1976, it had already been transforme

    April 14, 2014

  • School funding still an ongoing topic The budget still has several hurdles to jump before it is finalized. Now the House has to reach a consensus and then if the House and Senate cannot agree, a conference committee would have to merge the two versions. Finally, the governor has to sign

    April 12, 2014

  • Meier Take a survey, win a cruise; not going to happen A Clinton woman called me last week to report on a phone call she received. She first received a call from a young woman, who asked her to take a short survey. It sounded innocent enough, so she agreed, and answered a few questions, none of which so

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economic plan invests in Iowans Our work at the statehouse this week has been spent on the last few major budget bills. Since I serve as vice-chairwoman of the Economic Development Budget subcommittee, I have been focused on House File 2460. This bill funds small business developm

    April 12, 2014

  • The cool way of driving around

    Driving around with the windows down has taken on a whole new perspective.
    With spring finally arriving, I was able to roll down my windows, bask in the sunlight and turn up the tunes in my car this week. As I age, the music has changed a bit, and even three years ago, I wrote about the morphing tune of how “cool” I appeared while cruising around.

    April 11, 2014


Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

     View Results