Over the last several years, there has begun a great fight in America’s public square. In recent years, this fight has been very visible at Christmas. On one side are Christians who have, traditionally, expressed the joy of Christmas by placing Christian symbols in public places. On the other side are an emerging group of, primarily, Atheists who are committed to their faith and are trying to keep any kind of religious expression out of the public square.
The latest place this fight is taking place is in the rotunda of the Florida State Capital. American Nativity Scene, an organization started by Chicagoan Jim Finnegan, began an effort to encourage the placement of nativity scenes in the state capitals of all 50 states. A group was formed in Florida, the Florida Nativity Scene Committee, and the display was put up.
Since the display is legal, groups opposing it cannot stop it from happening. What they can do though, and have done, is to put up opposing displays. So, the Freedom From Religion Foundation put up a banner depicting Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the Statue of Liberty adoring the Bill of Rights placed in a crib. Another display is a 6 foot tall homemade “Festivus” pole made from emptied Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans.
So, what accounts for the vitriol of the opponents of the Christian faith? Where is the tolerance that allows Christians to openly celebrate this special event on their faith calendar? Well, the tolerance is nonexistent. The hatred of everything Christian is so strong with these opponents that they are determined to do all they can to crush every public expression of it that they can. It is really no different than the Atheist groups in California who are putting up billboards encouraging people not to celebrate Christmas.
But the source of the rancor is spiritual. The truth is, these people hate expressions of the Christian faith because they hate God and are running from him. In John 15, Jesus himself said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” And they certainly persecuted Jesus. It should be no surprise, then, that people would do such a thing.
The easy thing is to just sit back and bemoan the persecution. But we should not be content to do the easy thing. Based on American’s right to freedom of speech, the nativity scene has been permitted in the Florida Capitol building. And based on that same freedom of speech, things intended to express hatred toward Christians is also allowed. Instead of stewing about the expressions of hatred, what we ought to be doing is using this controversy to express God’s love. The people who put up the hateful symbols are separated from God. They need him. What a great opportunity to look them in the eye and tell them of the Savior who came and died so that they could know eternal life.