Atheists must be the most fragile peaches in the basket. They’re always getting bruised by the slightest exposure to public displays that remind them of Christmas, God, the Ten Commandments or, worst of all, Jesus. ...The definition of "religion" has now been taken to include pagan or secular symbols like Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or anything else that might remind someone of a certain holiday that occurs near the Winter Solstice, even if the symbols themselves have no religious connotation at all.
Driving the whole mess is the growing fear Not to Offend. The war on Christmas, part of the ongoing trend to eradicate anything Christian in the public square, is also driven by a profound misreading of the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
To the ACLU and other pro-atheist groups, that means the government must be hostile to anything that offends atheists. That makes atheism the de facto official religion, something the founders went out of their way to prevent.
Genuine conflicts do arise, and the courts have found ways to keep religiously themed items legal on public property - as long as they fulfill a secular purpose. In 1984, the Supreme Court in Lynch v. Donnelly ruled that the presence of a creche amid other seasonal displays - a Santa Claus house, a Christmas tree and a “Seasons Greetings” banner - erected by the city of Pawtucket, R.I., was not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
The secular purpose? Government was acknowledging the cultural significance of a traditional holiday celebrated by the vast majority of Americans. In what became the “reindeer test,” the court said that religious elements are OK if secular elements are present. So if you dust off a Bambi, put a red nose on it and place it next to the baby Jesus, all is right with the world. Previous generations didn’t need this kind of “cover,” but we’re in a different place now.
The court also noted, “The Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.”
Atheists are terribly delicate.