Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia has become a hero of the Christmas season.

After a staff member sent out an e-mail news release announcing that Gov. Perdue and his wife, Mary, would be lighting a “holiday tree” at the governor’s mansion, the governor – an outspoken Christian – quickly set the record straight.

Within moments after that initial e-mail had gone out, Gov. Perdue sent out a follow-up e-mail announcing that he would be lighting a “Christmas tree” – not a “holiday tree.”

The follow-up e-mail from Gov. Perdue’s office was a classic.

It read: “Due to a politically correct staff brain-freeze, the [governor’s] press office erroneously used the word ‘holiday tree’ to describe the coniferous flora that the governor and first lady will light this Sunday.”

It continued, “It is, in fact, a Christmas tree. The staffer responsible can be contacted at P.O. Box 432, Anchorage, Alaska, 99501.”

The message from Gov. Perdue was clear: He will not tolerate the diluting of Christmas.

As the issue of public religious expression – particularly during the Christmas season – has become increasingly contentious, it is energizing to see a high-profile political leader take such a bold stand in defense of Christmas.

Gov. Perdue, who spoke at Liberty University earlier this year, has become one of the most vocal Christian leaders in our nation. And it is fitting that he has charged headfirst into this important political debate.

While we celebrate Gov. Perdue’s action, we continue to see numerous examples of education officials and public managers taking anti-Christmas postures.

In Seattle this week, a school district decided to reprint lunch menus for 23 elementary schools because they bore the message of “Merry Christmas.” The News Tribune of Tacoma reported that the district actually reprinted the menus so they read “Happy Holidays.”

In Dodgeville, Wis., officials at an elementary school determined that their “winter program” would alter the carol “Silent Night” so that it is sung as “Cold in the Night.”

The lyrics have been secularized as follows:

Cold in the night,

no one in sight,

winter winds whirl and bite,

how I wish I were happy and warm,

safe with my family out of the storm.

The school’s program will include decorating classrooms with images of Santa Claus, Kwanza, Menorahs and Labafana (a Christmas witch).

The Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel has issued a demand letter to the school stating that its actions violate the Constitution. Liberty Counsel is prepared to file suit if the district does not remedy the situation.

These are just a couple of examples of school officials who want to eradicate Christmas.

Last week, a skit on “Saturday Night Live” had the cast spoofing the effort to restrain Christmas. Instead of singing “Hallelujah,” a politically correct choir utilized the words “How Ya Doing?”

Sadly, it probably gave the author of the “Cold in the Night” lyrics some new ideas.

Apparently, anti-Christmas school officials believe that saying “Merry Christmas” or singing “Silent Night” is an establishment of religion.

In reality, printing “Merry Christmas” on a menu or singing “Silent Night” in a school program is an establishment of religion in the same way that eating a nut makes you a squirrel.

It’s that ludicrous!

Liberty Counsel president and general counsel Mat Staver and I have been hitting the talk shows in recent days, identifying this war on Christmas across our nation. Liberty Counsel is providing the free legal services of 700 constitutional attorneys to any persons whose religious freedom is being denied or curtailed … available at [email protected]

We have been talking about the national “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,” in which pastors across the country are purchasing full-page newspaper ads announcing that Christmas is still legal.

The most recent pastor to join this campaign is Dr. Richard Lee, pastor of First Redeemer Church in Cummings, Ga. The church is placing ads in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other local newspapers to defend public displays and expressions of Christmas.

Readers can view the ad that churches are utilizing [a pdf file]. They can also call my National Liberty Journal newspaper office (434-582-2432) to have our graphics department help in the creation of an ad.

We have taken the offensive in the battle for Christmas. I urge pastors across the nation to join with us in protecting this important part of our national heritage.

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