Wall Street Journal: A Lincoln Chafee Christmas

Image: Wall Street Journal: A Lincoln Chafee Christmas

WSJ columnist Bill McGurn highlights the Becket Fund’s vital work defending America’s religious diversity and religious expression on the public square.

In this time of peace on Earth and good will to men, we give thanks for the little things that help to make the season bright: chestnuts roasting on open fires, tiny tots with their eyes all aglow—and the entertaining progressive pageant that is Lincoln Chafee at Christmastime.

This performance has its origins in a public embarrassment last December, after the governor of Rhode Island decreed that the majestic blue spruce standing in the State House rotunda would be referred to as a “holiday tree”—on the grounds that calling it by its obvious name would be an affront to diversity.

Alas, a flash mob of carolers showed up at the lighting ceremony and delivered themselves of a rousing rendition of “O Christmas Tree.” To avoid a repeat, this year Gov. Chafee announced the tree lighting ceremony only 30 minutes before it happened.

In short, Mr. Chafee has proffered the traditional gift of the enlightened class. A joyous ceremony was transformed into an occasion of acrimony and division. The decision was justified with an addled reference to religious liberty. And the American people were again reminded of the apparent inability of so many of our bluest bloods to distinguish between upholding religious pluralism and enforcing anti-religion.

Now, the Christian faith does not hang on whether the official evergreen of Rhode Island is called a Christmas tree. What does hang on it, says Eric Rassbach of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is the long-standing American understanding of the proper relationship between government and religion. Mr. Rassbach notes the irony here: The tolerant and diverse society Mr. Chafee claims to champion is ill-served by a government that reads “no establishment of religion” as mandating official hostility toward even innocuous religious expressions of its citizenry.

This article was published in the Wall Street Journal on December 3, 2012. Click here to read the full article.