Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, won a stocking full of coal this Christmas for providing "the silliest affront to the Christmas and Hannukah holidays."
Lynn received the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's Annual Ebenezer Award for his attack on a church-run program that provided socks and shoes for 1,000 needy children in South Carolina. Lynn's gripe with the privately-funded Laces4Love: It "subjects disadvantaged students to ritual foot-washing as part of a shoe giveaway."
Volunteers asked children if they would like to have their feet wiped off before they put on clean socks and new shoes. As Kevin "Seamus" Hasson, president of the Becket Fund (a nonpartisan, interfaith law firm), told WoW, "They're little kids, so you treat them with a certain amount of maternal kindness and you don't just hand them the shoebox and say, 'Here kid, here are your shoes.'" Lynn called the foot-washing "an attempt to evangelize public schools students" and a violation of the Constitution. Both school officials and volunteers said the foot-washing was hygienic, not religious.
Past Ebenezer Award recipients include Sparkle, a large, six-foot tall sparkly star that replaced Pittsburgh's religious holiday symbols. Kensington, Maryland, took the award for disinviting Santa Claus from its tree lighting ceremony. A high school in Kirkland, Washington, won the lump of coal for canceling a performance of A Christmas Carol.
Hasson said attacks on Christmas and Hannukah are getting "less silly," but "while Christmas nonsense is down, holiday nonsense is up." Politically correct police are now targeting Valentine's Day because it is named for a saint, along with Easter. Students are sending Special Friends cards, and the Easter bunny may have to change his name to the Special Bunny.
Fortunately, as the schools get sillier the Supreme Court gets saner, Hasson said: "By and large, there's a better atmosphere for religious freedom in the Supreme Court than there has been."