During what is often referred to as the holiday season, a variety of cultures and religions honor an equally diverse number of both religious and secular traditions. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Bodhi Day are just some of the religious holidays that are celebrated this time of year. And for many who don’t subscribe to a particular faith tradition, the season is still seen as an occasion to gather with friends and family.
No matter why you are celebrating this holiday season, we can all celebrate living in a country where religious freedom is a fundamental value. The First Amendment's Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses not only protect the right to believe (or not to believe), but also the right to express and to manifest religious beliefs.
In honor of our country’s proud history of promoting religious freedom, and the ACLU’s commitment to protecting the rights of all religious believers to practice their faith, this holiday season we are highlighting 12 cases we have brought on behalf of a variety of faiths defending religious liberty and the right to religious expression.
Day 1: ACLU Defends Church's Right to Run "Anti-Santa" Ads in Boston Subways
The ACLU has frequently defended the rights of people of faith, including Christians, to celebrate religious holidays. This extends to protecting their right to publically define holidays as they see fit. In 2002, the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) for removing subway ads promoting the views of a local church and refusing to sell additional advertising space to the church. One of the controversial ads, paid for by The Church of the Good News, said that early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or ""believe in lies about Santa Claus, flying reindeer, elves and drunken parties."
The ACLU argued that the MBTA cannot refuse advertising space to groups it disagrees with. Read more