Take for example the plight of the Joe Samona family in suburban Detroit. They put up one of those huge full-yard Christmas displays with lighted figures of Winnie the Pooh, Minnie Mouse, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and, oh yeah, a nativity scene. Their neighborhood association sent them a letter to remove the nativity scene as it was the focus of the one complaint they received about the display. No mention of Pooh, Minnie, the Clauses or any of the other characters -- just the Biblical ones. The Samonas refused to comply with the association's orders and were issued fines by the homeowner's group; for a display on private property!
Since that time, a Detroit newspaper ran a front-page story about the situation and the homeowner's association backed off and apologized. They sent a letter to the Samonas in apology. Get a load of this:
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or distress this confusion has caused you and your family... As a demonstration of our regret over this incident, we would ask you to please accept a holiday gift basket as a token of our remorse, in the spirit of this holiday season... We hope you understand that, on occasion, mistakes in proper intrepretation are made and we have learned from this mistake. (emphasis mine)
Merry Christmas to the homeowners association. (A followup story can be found here.)
Then there is the case from my former home state of Indiana where Jesus has been kicked out of the statehouse. According to a Federal judge in that state, has ruled that prayers offered to open sessions of the state legislature cannot mention Jesus or any of His titles.
The Indiana Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit in June on behalf of four people, including a Quaker lobbyist, who said the tradition of offering the usually Christian prayers was offensive. The ICLU said in court filings that at least 29 House invocations during the 2005 General Assembly session mentioned Jesus Christ, the Savior or the Son.
Of course, like C.A.M. at Dunker Journal, I wonder if a Muslim would offer a prayer if he'd be allowed to say "Allah" without penalty. But anyway, what good is prayer if we're not allowed to mention Jesus? Sure, He knows who were talking about, but why would we need to cover it up because four people find it offensive. I find many things that state and federal legislators so are offensive, but I have my doubts that my opinions would be taken seriously.
This month, my vow is to be offensive. I'll celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of that guy we're supposed to hush up about, and like Peter and John I'll be obeying God and not men. The best part is that I don't have to try to be offensive. And maybe, just maybe, someone will be offended enough to think about what I say and how I act.
"Lord, give me the strength to stand for you as I should."