Think American citizens are ready to give Christ the boot this holiday season? Think again.
A 2018 report from LifeWay Research shows an overarching sentiment that “Christmas should be more about Jesus” (65 percent).
These numbers reflect the reality of a report from Ozark, Missouri, that many locals clamored to get the government to keep its traditional Christmas light display featuring a cross after the town received legal threats from an activist secular legal group about the display.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Mayor Rick Gardner received “hundreds” of phone calls, text messages and other communications from members of the Ozark community following the town’s initial announcement [to take the cross down in the face of legal threats]. One person reportedly told Gardner that the cross “is a part of Ozark” and “this is Christian County, for Pete’s sake.”
The legal letter sent to officials claimed that the cross was a violation of the First Amendment. But the United States Supreme Court has said government can “recognize the role religion plays in our society.” And the question whether government can maintain displays depicting religious symbols—like the one in Ozark—is now before the United States Supreme Court.
The heckler’s veto—the one complaint that convinces public officials to cave on behalf of all citizens—might fly in some areas. After all, Ozark was essentially slapped with the same legal letter sent to Dover, Ravenna, and Streetsboro, Ohio, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Officials in all but Ozark and Streetsboro caved.
But what makes the difference is when citizens—the majority of whom say Christmas should be more about Jesus—make their voices heard. And they say keep the cross up and baby Jesus in the manger.