Radical Right Seeks to Expand Christmas

The latest in the "give them an inch" department....Evangelical Christians, still high on their newfound power at the polls which they've been told was a big factor in Bush's re-election, now want to push the envelope by foisting their religion on the rest of us. They are starting with a nudge--Christmas--who would object to "Merry Christmas?" But it's just the opening of the door.

In Terrebonne Parish, La., an organization is petitioning to add "Merry Christmas" to the red-lighted "Season's Greetings" sign on the main government building and is selling yard signs that read, "We believe in God. Merry Christmas." And a Raleigh, N.C., church recently paid $7,600 for a full-page newspaper ad urging Christians to spend their money only with merchants who include the greeting "Merry Christmas" in ads and displays.

"There is a revival taking place in our nation that is causing Christian and right-minded people to say, 'Wait a minute. We've gone too far,'" says the Rev. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Raleigh church. "We're not going to allow the country to continue this downward spiral to the left."

Where does it lead?

The push from the religious right troubles Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "This mixing of secular and religious symbols ought to be seen as a bad thing, not a good thing, for Christian believers," he says. "Unfortunately, some of the Christian pressure groups seem to have it backwards." He adds: "I think it's fair to say it's a mistaken notion that they have a mandate to put more nativity scenes up because George Bush was elected."

To many, the threats and demands that stores put up "Merry Christmas" signs are no laughing matter. "Why not simply require stores owned by Jews to put a gold star in their ads and on their storefronts?" the Rev. Jim Melnyk, associate rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Raleigh, wrote in a letter to the editor.

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