Good news on Christmas isn’t over
ROCK ISLAND, Ill.—In response to a letter written by an Alliance Defense Fund attorney, the Illinois attorney general’s office stated Thursday that county employees in the state are “free to include ‘Merry Christmas’ and other religious messages in their seasonal greetings at work.”
“We certainly support the attorney general’s conclusions. ADF’s Christmas Project has been extremely successful for the last two years in educating the public about the Christmas expression rights that government employees have under the Constitution,” said ADF attorney Timothy Chandler.
On December 15, Chandler wrote a letter to the Rock Island County Health Department on behalf of a department employee troubled by a new departmental policy restricting Christmas expression. In November, a department official informed its employees that they would no longer be permitted to say “Merry Christmas” or put up any decorations that refer to Christmas, as they had been allowed to do in the past.
The department claimed to impose the restriction out of concern for the so-called “separation of church and state.” Officials still allowed secular holiday decorations, such as Christmas trees, to be displayed and also allowed employees to decorate for other holidays, such as Halloween.
On December 22, after receiving a copy of the ADF letter, the Illinois attorney general’s office issued its own letter stating that employees at the department were indeed free to say “Merry Christmas” and display Christmas decorations.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that public employees cannot say ‘Merry Christmas’ or put up Christmas decorations,” Chandler said. “Such decorations cannot be excluded simply because they are religious or are taken to be religious in nature. Religious speech is not second-class speech and does not violate the Establishment Clause, contrary to what some other groups would have Americans believe.”
ADF represents people of faith, as well as public entities, free of charge to defend their freedom of speech regarding Christmas.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.