The Nation's Pulse

A Blue Christmas for the ACLU

Recession puts a crimp on the creche-haters' style.

By 12.23.09

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Have you wondered why the American Civil Liberties Union hasn't been carrying out its usual war on Christmas this season? There is a one-word explanation: money.

In a letter to ACLU supporters, its chief writes, "The ACLU was recently notified that our largest individual donor, David Gelbaum, who contributed over $20 million to the organization in 2009, will not be able to continue his support due to a change in his financial circumstances."

Mr. Gelbaum, an investor in "clean" technology, told the New York Times that "my investments in alternative clean energy companies have placed me in a highly illiquid position as a result of the general credit crisis in the American and world financial systems."

Thus, the ACLU is deprived of the money with which to mount its usual spate of threats and lawsuits against towns that have the temerity to have Christmas parades or Nativity scenes. Many of the latter have been accompanied in recent years by symbols of other religions, too, but that makes no difference to the ACLU. It's Christianity they're after.

All this leaves the ACLU with just enough money to continue its campaign for terrorists' rights.

If you thought their glee at Khalid Sheik Mohammed and some of his friends being sent to New York City for trial was over the top, just wait until Obama & Co. send those Guantanamo detainees to the prison in Thompson, Illinois.

Meanwhile, celebrate Christmas as much as you like, if Christmas is your wont. While Christians across the land will celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25, it is likely he was born in mid-summer, not December. The Book of Luke (2.8) states, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." Shepherds would have been in the fields in summer, but in December, when it is cold in that part of the world, the sheep would have been tucked into their pens the shepherds home by the fire.

The December dating may have been chosen by early church leaders to take advantage of the fact that in many societies the Winter Solstice was a time of celebration. That is when the sun is lowest in the sky, thus reminding and one and all that the days would be getting longer and spring was ahead. With Christianity spreading rapidly, it must have seemed entirely logical and fortuitous to celebrate the birth of Jesus on a day of year already considered to a happy time by many people. Even though Orthodox churchgoers celebrate Christmas on our January 7, that is only because they use a different calendar. 

Santa Claus, in his fur-trimmed red suit, snowy beard and jolly look, didn't always look that way. His ancestor was St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra (now part of Turkey). Nicholas earned a reputation as a generous giver of secret gifts. For example, he put coins in the shoes of those who left them on the front step for him. His most famous gesture involved three daughters of a man who hadn't enough money for marriage dowries for them. He was overwrought that this might mean they would be consigned to a life of prostitution. Hearing of the family's plight, Nicholas, under cover of darkness one night, tossed three bags of gold coins through the family's window so the daughters could be married.

Santa Claus is, of course, a benefactor on a much larger scale, when you consider that he must slide down millions of chimneys and deposit gifts, then clamber up again and ride off through the sky with his reindeer -- all in one night. Santa apparently long ago conquered the speed of light. 

As is well known, Santa keeps a list of who has been naughty and nice during the rear. On good authority we have been told that, despite its current penurious condition, the ACLU is still on the Naughty list and will get a lump of coal again this Christmas. Perhaps they will send carolers out, hats in hands, singing "I'm Dreaming of a Blue Christmas."

(Mr. Hannaford will retire at 9 on Christmas Eve, not staying up for Santa Claus.) 

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About the Author
Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number of years. He is a member of the board of the Committee on the Present Danger. His latest book is “Presidential Retreats.”