An atheist organization took out an ad in the New York Times to announce it is giving President Donald Trump a “lump of coal” for Christmas for his executive order protecting religious liberty.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) – an organization that champions abortion and LGBT rights – displays what it calls its “light-hearted, full-page ad” on its Facebook account. The ad appeared on Thursday – the winter solstice.
“President Trump’s great big Christmas present to the Religious Right . . . is a great big war on the separation of church and state,” the ad states.
The ad’s four large stockings – labeled “Religious vouchers,” “Cabinet Zealots,” “Church Politicking” and “Stacked Judiciary” – are hung and filled with money, crosses and other gifts. Smaller stockings hung beneath the larger ones each bear a lump of coal and are labeled “Women’s rights,” “LGBT,” “Planned Parenthood,” “Muslim Immigrants” and “Civil Liberties.”
Trump promised the nation that, if elected president, “We are going to say Merry Christmas again.”
“There’s no ‘war on Christmas,'” asserts Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Co-Founder. “That’s Fox News’ phony construct. But there most definitely is a concerted war on the First Amendment’s cherished principle of separation between government and religion.”
FFRF Co-President Dan Barker added Trump has “already inflicted” such “grave harm … on America’s wall of separation between church and state.”
Barker particularly points to Trump’s religious freedom executive order that authorizes Attorney General Jeff Sessions to issue religious liberty guidance for all federal agencies.
FFRF often supports its anti-Christian message with President Thomas Jefferson’s reference to the “wall of separation between church and state.”
As Breitbart News reported, however, Jefferson used the phrase in a letter to Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, to calm their fears of perceived threats from the state on their faith practices.
According to the report:
After writing that letter, Jefferson went on attending church, at services held in the House chamber of the U.S. Congress. (On Sundays, the Capitol was a church building.) He also went on to approve legislation for the federal government to undertake the construction of churches in the frontier regions, and helping pay pastors to preach in these churches, to carry the Christian faith to the native peoples there.
Clearly, what Jefferson was describing was not a rigid barrier between faith and public policy, but denominational allegiance by the state. As the Constitution says, the federal government was not to “establish religion,” that is, to select a particular denomination as a national church.
On Thursday, FFRF posted to Facebook, “Away with the manger – in with the Solstice!”
The atheists proclaim, “Christians stole Christmas.” The group adds:
We don’t mind sharing the season with them, but we don’t like their pretense that it is the birthday of Jesus. It is the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun — Dies Natalis Invicti Solis. Christmas is a relic of sun worship. For all of our major festivals, there were corresponding pagan festivals tied to natural events. We’ve been celebrating the Winter Solstice, this natural holiday, long before Christians crashed the party.
Trump, however, has made religious freedom a hallmark of his agenda.
“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore,” the president said during the National Day of Prayer event in May. “We will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith.”