Way to go Governor Perry! Surrounded by a few Texas Santas, Christian cheerleaders, a Rabbi and others, Governor Rick Perry signed the Merry Christmas bill into law. The bill states that Christmas and other holiday celebrations will be protected from legal challenges in our Texas public school systems. Teachers can wish their students Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah without worrying about a law suit. Cheerleaders can mention the name of Jesus or wear T-shirts that share their faith on the football field. Schools can have Christmas trees, Nativity scenes and Menorah’s displayed.
Governor Perry made a profound statement, worth thinking about. He said, “Freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion.” Those words are just as necessary to think about today as they will be this December. Most of us are glad the Merry Christmas bill gives us the right to share our faith. The more important question is this: How often do you take advantage of your right, to do what is right? How freely do you use your freedom?
I am busy writing the Advent book that our ministry will send out for the Christmas season. Governor Perry’s bill came out at just the right time. It is odd to think of Christmas when it is Texas hot outside and now, I am newly inspired! The Denison Forum sends out an Advent book because we want to help people keep the true meaning of Christmas a high priority. The world keeps telling us we need to tone down our “religion” out of respect for other people’s feelings. The apostle Paul would beg to differ. Colossians 1:28 says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” Now, think about the definition of “everyone” – and reread that verse. Who do you respect so much that you would never think it appropriate to mention to that person, the name of Jesus? Should we respect people more than we love them?
One of my favorite Erma Bombeck stories is about the time her son was terribly angry with her. She was choosing to be his parent instead of his best friend and he didn’t like her decision. In anger he shouted, “I hate you!” Erma Bombeck’s response to her son was profound parenting, and witnessing, truth. She said, “Well…I love you enough to let you hate me.” There have been many moments in my life when those words helped strengthen my own resolve.
Christians have been battling for the right to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. It seems a strange fight when, after all, we DID invent the holiday! While I am thrilled that our state passed that bill through both the state House and Senate, it seems sad we had to legislate our right to Christmas. I think if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been standing behind Governor Perry they would have been asking, “Didn’t we already settle this?”
I have the right to bear arms – but I don’t own one. God protects me and Kroger provides my meat. I have the right to an attorney. I hope I never need to take advantage of that right either. Now, thanks to a Merry Christmas bill in June – I know I have the right to look at anyone, anywhere, anytime and wish them a holiday that celebrates Jesus’ birth.
But let’s not simply “enjoy” the fact we have freedom of religion. Let’s use our rights so that no one is kept free from knowing the God of your religion. Everyone has the right to know that Jesus died for their sins. Jesus told his disciples to teach everyone to obey his teaching. (Matthew 28:18-20) Proclaim Jesus. Admonish and teach everyone with God’s wisdom. Why? Because you want them to be made perfect in Christ and live eternally in heaven.
When Governor Perry signed that bill, the state of Texas gave you permission to say Merry Christmas, anywhere. How will you use your God given right and wish someone a “Merry Christmas” today?