House resolution defends Christmas

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Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and 36 other members of the House have proposed a resolution that defends the symbols and traditions of Christmas while frowning upon any attempt to ban references to the holiday.

The two-page resolution, H.Res. 448, say the First Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion was never meant to "prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialogue."

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It says the House "recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas," and that it "strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas." It also expresses support for anyone who uses Christmas symbols during the holiday.

The resolution is a response to what has become an annual wave of news stories in December about schools and other organizations banning references to Christmas. This year, several schools around the country have banned Christmas, Christmas trees and other related symbols. One recent report said a teacher in Connecticut banned the appearance of Santa Claus in his classroom.

Conservatives in particular have been worried about attempts to turn Christmas, a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, into a secular winter holiday. In 2005, the House passed a resolution similar to Lamborn's, but a vote this year seems unlikely given that the House doesn't plan to return until January.

Earlier this month, Committee on House Administration Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) decided to allow members to send holiday cards to constituents through the Capitol mail system that say "Merry Christmas" for the first time in 40 years.

"I feel it is entirely appropriate for members of Congress to include a simple holiday salutation, whether it is Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and so on," she said.

Last week, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) took to the House floor to read Christmas greetings from Franklin Roosevelt from the 1930s and 1940s, to show that past generations routinely mentioned God in official statements, and in the context of government.

"It was OK in the 1930s, just as it was throughout our history, to thank God," he said. "No one ever had a problem with Democrats or Republicans paying tribute to God in the House Chamber, in the Senate Chamber, in the White House, anywhere."

Gohmert noted that in 1934, from the "government property" of the White House, Roosevelt said, "Let us make the spirit of Christmas of 1934 that of courage and unity. That is, I believe, an important part of what the Maker of Christmas would have it mean. In this sense, the Scriptures admonish us to be strong and of good courage, to fear not, to dwell together in unity."

Gohmert is one of the 34 GOP co-sponsors of Lamborn's resolution, but there are also two Democrats: Reps. Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).