A Christmas Miracle

  Christmas is a season of celebration and hope, and there's nothing better at this time of year than the chance to celebrate a true Christmas miracle. Today I have a story that comes close to miraculous status. It's a story of how faith, combined with persistence, can change America's cultural landscape. The story actually began with a woman named Rita Warren, whom I have mentioned in previous broadcasts. Rita grew up in Mussolini's Italy where she was painfully acquainted with the extremes of anti-religious bigotry. She well recalls the day when fascist soldiers marched into her classroom and ripped a crucifix from the wall, replacing it with portraits of Il Duce and Adolf Hitler. The Lord's Prayer was forbidden, replaced with songs glorifying those two monsters and their vision of world domination. After Rita emigrated to America, some years later, she thought she had escaped the forces of tyranny, but she was in for a surprise. For many Christmas seasons she set up a nativity scene in front of the nation's Capitol, but each evening she was ordered to take it down. The attitudes she encountered made no sense. This is Christmas, she thought. We're not celebrating the birth of "Frosty The Snowman," but Jesus Christ. So, knowing only too well what happens when anti-religious views prevail in society, Rita decided to take a stand. When she attempted to erect a crèche in Fairfax, Virginia, the city fathers made her stop. But shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that the Ku Klux Klan had the right to erect a cross in a public park, Rita was back again, arguing that Christians should have at least an equal right to free expression. This time the lawyers told her that, while she had a right to erect a display, she could not do so in Fairfax because she didn't live within the city limits. And that's when the miracle happened. Unable to get assistance from conservative lawyers, Rita turned to an unlikely advocate: the ACLU. Yes, the organization that devoutly opposes any hint of religion on public property admitted that Rita's rights were being trampled. After a fight lasting four-years, the forces of darkness finally blinked, and this year Rita's display will go up—complete with a Menorah, honoring the faith of her ACLU-appointed lawyer, Victor Glasberg. Rita Warren's miracle should teach us an important lesson. Through her war-time experiences, Rita knew that whenever God is hidden from public view, substitute religions spring up in His place. And whether the substitute is a political ideology or some type of New Age concoction, these man-made religions are far less benevolent than the real thing. As Christians, we need to remember that we can never take our religious freedom for granted. But Rita Warren's story reminds us that, with prayer and persistence, all things are possible. So in the spirit of the season, I say "God Bless Rita Warren" and "God bless us every one."


Chuck Colson



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