The Legal Tide Is Turning For Christmas: Christmas is coming soon and we couldn’t be more excited! Today, we hear President Trump’s White House Christmas Speech ushering Christmas in Washington again. And we are talking with David Barton, Tim Barton, and Rick Green on looking at Christmas through a constitutional, historical, and a Biblical perspective. Then, Mat Staver will be with us talking about what is happening legally with Christmas. It’s an exciting episode that you won’t want to miss!

Air Date: 12/14/2017


Guests: Mat Staver, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to WallBuilders Live. We’re getting so close to Christmas, man, we’re down to days and it’s exciting. Had a great program earlier this week talking about Christmas service ideas where you can help folks in nursing homes close to you. Be sure check that out on our website at WallBuildersLive.com in the archives section if you missed that a couple of days ago. My name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator. Here with David Barton America’s premier historian. And Tim Barton, president here at WallBuilders and a national speaker and pastor.

Here at WallBuilders, we’re always talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, and faith, and the culture. And always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.

Christmas in the Culture

Rick:

We’re going to do that today regarding Christmas. Looking at Christmas through the lens of a Constitutional, historical, and a Biblical perspective. So, David, Tim, Mat Staver will be with us a little later in the program to talk about some of the legal things dealing with Christmas in the culture. But, it is a time where most of us — we just want to enjoy the holiday and we want to enjoy the birth of Christ and sharing that with somebody. But some people get offended by that and you end up in legal battles. It gets to be messy when it shouldn’t be.

David:

It is, but the good news is, I think the tide is turning in this. I think we’re having fewer legal battles than we normally have in years. There’s less pushback at schools because more parents and more citizens are starting to push in the right direction. And they’re starting to stand up and ask folks like Mat Staver at Liberty Counsel, “Would you talk to my school board and tell them how it is?”

And by the time Mat says, “No, here’s all the court cases,” the school backs down.  I think that word is out there in such a good strong way that we just really don’t lose these cases by and large. And I think that’s a really, really, good. But, Mat’s got great insight and again, great information, so that if you hear something the next few days about your school deciding to pull a Christmas program, or Christmas Carol, or whatever, give Mat a quick call and that can be rectified really in a hurry. Because I really do, in the last few years, see the tide turning in our direction.

Christmas Scoop from Liberty Counsel

Rick:

And you’re talking about a guy with an incredible win ratio too, there at Liberty Counsel. So, a great person to have on your team and he’s with us today to talk a little bit about what’s going on with Christmas this year and the trend that David’s talking about. Mat Staver with us from Liberty Counsel. Mat, thanks so much for joining us again.

Mat Staver:

Good to be with you. 

Rick:

Hey, thanks for all you guys do at Liberty Counsel. We want to give you all’s website out as well because it’s not just Christmas cases. You all are involved in all kinds of religious liberty cases and religious freedom cases. LC.org is the website – correct?

Mat Staver:

Correct. LC.org.

Rick:

Okay, and lots of great information there also. The information on which stores are refusing to say “Christmas” or participating in Christmas and those that are leaving Christ in/leaving Christ out. Lots of great information at the website there. Let’s talk about this Christmas season. You all get a lot of calls and questions, what can parents do? What are schools allowed to do? How do we kind of guide people through this season with the, oh, trigger-happy, sue-happy atheists out there?

Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign

Mat Staver:

Well, 15 years ago we launched what we call the “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign” to be a friend of those governmental entities that acknowledge Christmas and a foe of those who don’t. In other words, to educate and, if necessary, to litigate to make sure the real reason, Christ and Christmas, is not censored from the Christmas season. So, we have educational memos, and we consult with people, we answer people’s questions, we send letters, and we have educational memos on what’s permissible with regards to the celebration of Christmas. For example, a nativity scene on public property at City Hall, or the state capitol, or singing Christmas carols in the public school. All of those are permissible and we give the guidelines in our material on our website – LC.org.

We also have, as part of this, not only focused on the public square, but also on the private retail market. And we created, 14 years ago, what’s called the “naughty and nice list”. And it is a list of retailers that, on the one hand, acknowledge Christmas and on the other hand, retailers that want to profit off of Christmas, but pretend that it doesn’t exist. So we put those on the naughty list. And the good news is, since the 14 years we’ve been doing this, the nice list has been growing and the naughty list has been shrinking.

But, there are still a few hard nuts to crack because they have a real animus, a real opposition, to Christmas that have remained on the naughty list from the beginning – 14 years ago to the present.

Rick:

You’re right – they like getting the dollars, but they don’t want to acknowledge Christ and don’t want to even use the word “Christmas”. So, we should give them less of our dollars and hopefully change their mind and it has changed some of them.

Holiday Trees?

Mat Staver:

Yeah, it has. 14 years ago, you begin when we started this, and the reason why we did is because of the Christmas trees. You couldn’t find Christmas trees, they were called “holiday trees.” And of course, the Christmas tree only celebrates one holiday and it’s Christmas. It doesn’t celebrate anything else – not Hanukkah, not New Year’s, not Thanksgiving, nor other holidays – just Christmas. So, why would you name it a holiday tree when it’s not a holiday tree it’s a Christmas tree.

Rick:

Yeah.

Mat Staver:

So, when we couldn’t find these in the stores, and when everything was “happy holidays” no “Merry Christmas.” Even Wal-Mart was telling its cashiers 14 years ago you couldn’t even return a greeting to a customer. When they were at the counter and said, “Merry Christmas” you had to return “Happy Holidays” to them. We put them on the naughty list. Well, to Walmart’s credit, the next year they switched.

They openly said that they’re going to acknowledge Christmas early and often. And from that time to the present they have and many others have switched as well. Now, really what we need to do is, on the one hand, we need to vote with our shopping dollars. And on the other hand, we need to let the retailers know why we’re shopping with them and why we’re not shopping with them.

So, for example, for Wal-Mart, how did they change? Well, we put them on the naughty list and the customers then told the local Wal-Marts, “We’re not going to patronize you. We’re not going to shop at your store.” And that got back to management and–

Rick:

That got their attention.

Mat Staver:

Yeah. They ultimately want to make money during the holidays. They don’t want to offend their customers. But, on the other hand, when you have a store that’s on the naughty list, rather than just not patronizing the store — which we encourage you to not patronize them — but also let them know why you’re not patronizing them. And that’s how some of these on the naughty list ultimately got the message.

And they decided to switch and call a Christmas tree a Christmas Tree. And so many other ways as well have Christmas decorations, Merry Christmas in their store, and Christmas songs on their intercom as they’re playing it over the shopping area.

Government Entities and Nativity Scenes

Rick:

And Mat, before I let you go, I want to bring you back to what you started with which is the government entities or public property whether it’s a nativity scene, for instance. Some communities are grappling with that question.  “Can we even have a nativity scene now or are we going to get sued by an atheist group?”

Mat Staver:

Yeah, it’s fairly simple. Whenever it’s a publicly sponsored religious display or symbol on public property. For example, City Hall wants to put up a nativity scene on its own property that’s publicly sponsored on public property. That’s permissible so long as somewhere within the context of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus as the central figure, you have somewhere in the general area, a secular symbol of the holiday like a Christmas tree, or a Santa Claus, or the reindeer, or something of that nature.

The same with Christmas carols. You can have the schools do these Christmas carols or pageants and you can have 60, 70, the majority of the songs, Christian songs like “Silent Night Holy Night” and so many other great Christian songs. So long as somewhere within the repertoire, within the performance, you have some secular songs such as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Like what may be happening around the country or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” So, as long as you mix a few of the secular songs with the predominant, if you will, religious songs, that’s certainly permissible as well.

Rick:

Do you remember — it’s been a few years, it’s the seems to have gotten better — but, do you remember when we had, at one point, complaints over red and green?–

Mat Staver:

Yeah. It’s amazing.

“Remake the Elf Hats”

Rick:

–and Christmas programs. We’ve come a long way the last few years.

Mat Staver:

No, I know. And you had that in Texas where this actually happened. And also we worked at another school in the northeastern part where the parents actually made these red and green elf hats and the school said, “No, no, no, that’s Christmas colors. You can’t do that.” They made them remake the elf hats for the little kids. And they made them redo them in black and white.

Well, we then contacted them and said, “That’s an absolute violation. You’re showing an animus opposition towards the Christian viewpoint religious perspectives.” And they change the next year. So, as bizarre as it is, we’ve had nursing homes where they’re getting some federal or state funding and some people think, “Well, they can’t have any celebration of Christmas.” We’ve had nursing homes and assisted living facilities actually take the angel on top of the tree and cut the wings of the angel off so it wouldn’t look religious.

Rick:

Wow.

We’ve Come A Long Way

Mat Staver:

Now we’ve been able to reverse all those, but that’s as bizarre as it gets.

Rick:

It is. That is crazy. Am I just not hearing the stories as much or has it gotten a little better the last few years”

Mat Staver:

It’s gotten better the last few years. I think the campaign, that’s now 15 years old, and others that are educating, they are getting the message that number one, in the public retail, in the public sector, you can celebrate Christmas and here’s how you do it. And in the nursing homes and other facilities, yeah, you can celebrate Christmas. You can allow the tenants to celebrate Christmas and in the retail market, there’s a big move in the right direction. So, I think we have to not let up because you know one day 14, 15, years ago we woke up and tried to find Christmas trees and we couldn’t find it.

Merry Christmas Boston

Mat Staver:

And, in fact, how it actually began was, there a tree in Boston that’s set up every year. It comes down from Canada because of some five years ago the Canadians came down and helped Boston and so every year they send a big Christmas tree down they say, “Merry Christmas Boston.”  When it got into Boston, the mayor said, “We’re going to have a holiday lighting ceremony, holiday tree lighting ceremony.” And that was the same year that all of these retailers started to literally eliminate Christmas. So, we don’t want to go back to those times.

That’s why we need to be vigilant. First of all, make some education, give these informational brochures to your city, your county, your public officials, your school officials. Do it in advance because these things are taking place now.

Rick:

Yeah.

Mat Staver:

And when you see something, let us know so we can get involved and reverse the problem.

Rick:

You know what, the part that’s so cool about all this is it’s almost like market-driven solutions. Like you don’t have to use the government, and wouldn’t want to use the government to force a private company to say “Merry Christmas.” You use market forces to do exactly that. But then when it’s on government property, you go in and you use the law as it as it should be. So well done, sir.

Great victories out there at Christmas this year in big part thanks to Liberty Counsel. We appreciate what you guys are doing. Keep up the great work.

Mat Staver:

Thank you. God bless and Merry Christmas.

Rick:

Merry Christmas to you, Mat, as well. That was Mat Staver. Liberty Council’s website –  LC.org. You can help them with this fight and so many others that are out there. Go support him at LC.org, contribute financially, get on their e-mail list, and you’ll be notified of all kinds of things happening across the country as well.

Stay with us folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

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Trump Reversing Obama – Christmas in Washington Again

Rick:

Thanks for staying with us here at WallBuilders Live. And thanks to Mat Staver for joining us from Liberty Counsel. Back with David and Tim now, and, guys, of course, Mat was talking about not only private expressions and being able to express Christmas in our companies and in the retail market. But also on government property, and of course, we have a Christmas tree at the State Capitol here in Texas that we’re very proud of and we call it a Christmas tree. But in Washington, they’ve stopped calling them Christmas trees for the Obama administration. Now, apparently, Trump may be changing that.

David:

Yeah, no question about it.   I go all the way back to the summer before the election and we were able to help put together one of the meetings where a thousand pastors went and met with Trump. And at that point, he said, “Guys,” he said, “if elected president, Christmas is coming back to America.” He said, “This is ridiculous. There’s no reason not to be saying Christmas and Merry Christmas.”

And so he got elected. And he said, “Christmas is going to be back.” And just even last week, I was on a call at the White House. And here it is in December, and they said, “First thing, let us tell you, welcome back to Christmas. Merry Christmas everybody.”

They made a big, big, deal out of it. And you think, “That’s such a small thing to make big.” But it’s not a small thing to so many people in America.

It’s kind of like the NFL protest. People thought, “Oh, people don’t get upset over that.” I heard commentators on ESPN saying, “Anybody who gets upset over the NFL flag protest is really not a true NFL fan.” Well, turns out must be about a third of NFL fans weren’t really true NFL fans. They underestimated. And I think they’ve underestimated how big something like “Merry Christmas” is in America.

The Lighting of the National Christmas Tree

And so President Trump, for anybody that didn’t hear, I want you to hear the little five-minute speech that he gave at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. I want you to hear him talk about Christmas, and about Jesus Christ, and about what the birth of Jesus Christ means to the world, to all religions. It’s just, it’s unbelievable to have a pres– Harry Truman did this back in the 50s. He was like this. And Trump is just as bold.

So, listen to this part of Trump’s speech from the lighting of the Christmas tree at the White House.

President Trump’s Speech

President Trump:

Today is a day that I’ve been looking very much forward to all year long. It’s one that we have heard, and we speak about, and we dream about. And now, as the President of the United States, it’s my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world a very Merry Christmas. I want to thank everyone who has come together here right in front of the White House. That beautiful, beautiful, White House. And everyone watching from home to see the lighting of this incredible national Christmas tree.

For nearly a century, through good times and bad, every president has taken part in this wonderful tradition first started by President Coolidge. But, I was informed tonight that the weather we have is the best it’s been in 25 years. In fact, I said, “Is it always like this?” And the secretary said, “Hasn’t been like this for a long time, so we’re very lucky.”

Finally, in 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation making Christmas a federal holiday and I sort of feel we’re doing that again. That’s what’s happening. From the early days of our nation, Americans have known Christmas as a time for prayer and worship, for gratitude and goodwill, for peace and renewal. Melania and I are full of joy at the start of this very blessed season. We’re thrilled to think of the people across the nation, and all across the continents, whose spirits are lifted by the miracle of Christmas.

For Christians, this is a holy season. The celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all, the gift of God’s love for all of humanity. Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ, and the story of this incredible life, forever changed the course of human history. There’s hardly an aspect of our lives today that His life has not touched – art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world.

Each and every year at Christmas time we recognize that the real spirit of Christmas is not what we have – it’s about who we are. Each one of us is a child of God. That is the true source of joy this time of the year. That is what makes every Christmas merry. And that is what we remember at today’s beautiful ceremony – that we are called to serve one another, to love one another, and to pursue peace in our hearts, and all throughout the world.

And so tonight, I thank the millions of Americans who light our lives and brighten our wonderful communities. I thank those who are serving the needy during this season and throughout the year. I thank our military men and women who are stationed around the world keeping us safe. I thank our law enforcement officers who protect our streets and secure our homeland. I thank America’s teachers, pastors, and all those religious, and those people that have taught us so much, for their leadership in our communities and our society.

 

And especially tonight, I thank America’s families. At Christmas, we are reminded more than ever that the family is the bedrock of American life. And so this Christmas we ask for God’s blessings for our family, for our nation. And we pray that our country will be a place where every child knows a home filled with love, a community rich with hope, and a nation blessed with faith.

On behalf of Melania, myself, Barron, all of my children, all of my grandchildren — they’re here with us tonight — I want to thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Merry Christmas Everybody. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. Thank you.

Rick:

Well, it’s nice to have somebody in the White House again that actually believes in Christmas and is willing to share it with the rest of the country. George Bush was pretty good about that. But, I don’t even know that he was this good about it. It was good to hear.

David:

Well, we were kidding about it that the message he delivered about Christmas and Jesus, is probably stronger than what half the pastors in America delivered around Christmas.

Rick:

Right.

David:

So, it really is amazing. And it is very welcome for that to come back. And it seems like a small thing, but it really is a big thing in the overall tone of the nation.

Rick:

Quick break guys. We’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

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Rick:

Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders Live. Thanks to President Trump for being — okay, so he wasn’t actually with us, but we played his speech so it kind of felt like he was with us today. And thanks, Mat Staver for joining us as well. David, Tim, now Tim, you’ve got a story that really is going to fit with our program from earlier in the week as well in terms of acts of service during Christmas.

Remembering Others at Christmas

Tim:

Yeah, it certainly fits the Christmas theme. And it certainly, as we’ve talked about celebrating Christmas and how incredible it is to have a president who will acknowledge that there is a Christmas – it’s not just a holiday. No, it’s Christmas, and Jesus is the reason for the season. One of the things that, in the midst of Christmas tradition, that we do certainly in America and giving gifts is really serving and remembering others. Kind of the whole concept behind it, and not to give a tutorial on gift giving or God sending Jesus and all this, but remembering people around us.

And one of the fun things about Christmas is that you’re checking out at lines, it seems like people tend to be just a little more friendly. They think about others, they remember other people. And in the spirit of Christmas, in the spirit of remembering others, several months ago, there was a shooting down in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Where you had the crazy lone gunman walk in and just unloaded and murdered so many people in the church. And of course, there were a lot of gun talk surrounding it of, “What’s the best way to solve this?”

And ultimately, what we saw most churches do is they had a talk about security team, “What can we do to help make sure this never happens in our church?” And I think ultimately more churches now have armed security, whether it’s personnel from their staff, their church, or they’ve hired external officers to come in.

Sutherland Springs Shooting

Tim:

Anyway, one of the individuals in that shooting was a young boy, Ryland Ward, he’s 5 years old and–

David:

Oh, I remember him –

Tim:

–he’s the one that was shot five times.

David:

Yeah, and survived.

Tim:

Yeah, and we talked about the grotesque nature that if, obviously there is a level of moral depravity if you’re going to go into a church and are going to murder people. But the fact that you shoot a little boy five times and there was an 18-month-old all the way up to elderly people in the church that this individual murdered. Well, this 5-year-old boy, he’s still in the hospital, he’s been surviving. And there was a really, really, neat interview where his grandmother was talking about all he was going through. And one of the things that she said in this interview is, the thing that he has found joy in being in the hospital, is he’s already received some cards.

People have written him notes and — but he’s already gotten a couple of Christmas cards. So, he got some Christmas cards early and she said his favorite Christmas card, somebody gave him a dollar bill. And so, as a five-year-old boy, he opens it up and there’s a dollar bill in this Christmas card and he’s so excited. And so in this interview, there’s also some sadness involved because the grandmother explains that they haven’t really talked to him about the fact that his stepmother was killed. She’s gone, his sisters are gone.

David:

Oh wow.

Bless Ryland Ward

Tim:

So, they haven’t unfolded all this to him. And so, just, your heart grieves. They’re talking about all the surgeries still yet to come. But one of the things that came from this is, she actually has given an address where if somebody wants to send them a Christmas card,–

David:

There you go.

Tim:

— you can send this little 5-year-old boy a Christmas card.

David:

There you go.

Tim:

So, I want to encourage our audience, little Ryland Ward 5 years old and–

David:

How do you spell his first name?

Tim:

So Ryland is RYLAND and the last name, Ward, WARD. And the address, if you want to send him a Christmas card, is P.O. Box 1 7 4. That’s Sutherland Springs, Texas, 7 8 1 6 1. We’ll have the link for this article up on the WallBuilders Live site. You can go, you can read the details from his grandmother, you can get that address.

But certainly, for this young man, all that he’s gone through, it’d just be so incredible if he was overwhelmed overflowing–

David:

This ought to be like the last scene out of Miracle on 34th Street where that, in that old movie, they bring in from the post office just these–

Tim:

Big bags–

David:

That’s right.

Tim:

–and these mail sacks–

Rick:

Yes.

Tim:

–and they just dump out these cards.

David:

I hope everybody sends him a card.

So Easy, But the Impact of Sending a Christmas Card Would be Incredible

Tim:

But, yeah, especially in these times, it’d be so easy for us to just, lets us write a little note, write a card, “Hey, little buddy, we love you. We’re praying for you. Have a Merry Christmas.” So easy to do, but the impact that could have would be incredible.

David:

Yeah.

Rick:

Hey, and go ahead and put that dollar bill in there, or a five dollar bill, or twenty dollar bill, and help this family as well. They’ve got enough to deal with as it is. So, what a wonderful Christmas it would be if it helps pay some of these hospital bills and other things that they’re going to be dealing with. So what a great opportunity.

Ryland Ward is his name – RYLAND WARD. It’s P.O. Box 1 7 4 Sutherland Springs, Texas, 7 8 1 6 1. Hey, let’s make that post office down there have to have a section of the post office building set aside for Ryland to get all his Christmas cards and be able to take them over to the hospital. How cool would that be?!

Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live.