Ken Sehested

According to the U.S. Supreme Court (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984), the traditional courthouse nativity scene displayed at Christmas has become “a passive symbol.” In a 1984 case upholding a 40-year-old tradition in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, of erecting a city-sponsored Christmas display (which included Santa Claus), Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote that it “engenders a friendly community spirit” and “serves the commercial interests” of the merchants. Without intending to, Chief Justice Burger delivered in those words a prophecy as clear and as excruciating as any in Scripture. The birth of the Messiah, which so terrorized Herod, has in our day become a passive symbol, one that serves our culture’s commercial interests.