Catholic League President Bill Donohue tells Newsmax he is fighting against a “war on Christmas” being waged by secularists trying to “dilute or neuter” the real meaning of the religious holiday.
He also declares that some atheists who attack Christmas are “mean-spirited people” using the First Amendment as a club.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is a New York-based nonprofit organization that claims more than 230,000 members. Donohue has been president since 1993.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Donohue says the Catholic League has been dealing with the war on Christmas “even before I took over.
“Go back to the 1980s. At that point it was more of an ACLU kind of fight. There’s a lot of litigation that went on. They’ve kind of pulled back, in all honesty, in more recent years.
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“What’s happened is more insidious because it went from the legal segment of our society right into the culture, particularly multiculturalism, which is really just a club to beat down Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian heritage upon which we were founded.
“So what they tried to do is to dilute or to neuter the meaning of Christmas. It’s a much bigger agenda. The real agenda is the secularization of our society and some of these people don’t even shy away from telling us about it.”
The American Atheists organization and its president, David Silverman, have been among those leading the fight against Christmas, even erecting anti-Christmas billboards near the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey.
Donohue comments: “Two years ago, American Atheists put up a sign basically saying that Christmas was a myth. They put that up on a billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. We answered with a more positive statement on the New York side of the Lincoln Tunnel.
“Last year, they had a billboard and nobody understood what it was about. It was simply inane. Poseidon was in there and all these different gods.
“This year, they crossed the line — you’ve got Christ with the crown of thorns right here in Times Square trying to make the point that everything is a myth. And the reason why David did that is because he didn’t get any juice from last year’s [sign].
“I want to be clear about this: He does have a First Amendment right to insult my religion. He has no moral right to do so. There’s a pretty big difference between the two.”
Donohue refers to an elementary school in Arkansas that wanted to take students to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” being presented in a church.
One parent objected because Jesus is mentioned in the show, an anti-religious group got involved, and the kids never got to see the play.
“Let’s just say there’s one kid who feels like he’s left out,” he says. “What are we going to do? Forget about Christmas? Let’s say it’s February. We have Black History Month. Let’s say you have a little white racist in the classroom who says I don’t want to celebrate Black History Month; I’m a white kid. What are we going to do? Are we going to allow the racist kid to veto the right of people to celebrate African-American heritage? Or are we going to try to educate the kid?
“This is the problem that we have here. There is a first amendment right to freedom of speech, not just simply freedom of religion. And when Madison wrote the First Amendment, he wasn’t thinking, my God, if you have a Christmas carol at Christmastime, somehow we’re going to suffer apoplexy. No, this is a matter of mean-spirited people who are using the law as a club. It’s not what the Founders wanted but we do have activist organizations and activist judges who often give it to them.”
Donohue makes the point that not all atheists are among those “mean-spirited people.”
“In October, Paul Kurtz died. Paul Kurtz was in his 80s. He was the founder of the Secular Humanist Society. A few years before he died, he talked about what he called the angry atheists. He wanted to separate those people from himself.
“I studied under Sidney Hook, one of the most brilliant men I ever met in my life. He was also an atheist. There wasn’t an anti-Catholic bone or anti-religious bone in that man’s body.
“[Writer] Nat Hentoff is a friend of mine. He’s pro-life. He’s also an atheist. So clearly you can be an atheist and have no hate in you.”
The Catholic League recently got involved when a company managing a senior apartment complex in California told residents they couldn’t have a Christmas tree “because it’s religious,” Donohue tells Newsmax.
“First of all, it’s not religious. But why is the management company telling these old people that you can’t have a celebration of Christmas? Jews got involved and said we want to celebrate Christmas too.
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“We put out the email address of the human resources people at [the management company] and guess what? Within 24 hours, the decision was reversed. We shouldn’t have to go there, though.”
Donohue adds that the Newtown, Conn., tragedy that has shaken the nation is “unspeakable, but it does have people repair to religion. After all, if you really are a diehard atheist, what exactly are you going to do to console these people?
“It’s not good enough to call on secular grief counselors. I’m not opposed to it, but there’s a place for the rabbis and the ministers and the priests and imams and people of good faith. That’s our place at the table.
“The people who are the most generous with their time, their money and volunteering, the people who are also the happiest and the healthiest are people of faith, of any faith. I don’t think we want to make the atheist model as something to emulate in the United States of America.”
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