Why We Hate Plastic Baby Jesuses on our Courthouse Steps

I get a kick out of Religious Right reactions to objections to nativity scenes. Obviously, the objection is not that you put nativity scenes on your front lawn. Those, while tacky, are just fine. It’s your yard, after all, and if you think plastic baby Jesuses best reflect your beliefs, then okay.

The problem comes in when you start finding baby Jesus at city hall, and in the public library, or on the courthouse steps. And even then, all communities have to do to make most of these objections go away is to include displays given to other religions and maybe the odd Festivus pole (you know, for the rest of us).

But conservative activist Jerry Newcombe thinks there is something else going on and he’s written an op-ed for World Net Daily just to prove it. But before he will tell us what it is, he feels compelled to embark on a completely nonsensical and unnecessary attack on the historicity’s of Dan Brown’s novel…yes, NOVEL…The DaVinci Code.

First of all, it is incredible that Newcombe should feel the need to refute a novel. I mean, hello? Novel? Fiction?

Look, better novels than The DaVinci Code have been guilty of making a mess of history. That’s why the category of nonfiction exists. Even historical novels, which one might reasonably expect to do a little better, regularly make a mess of history, because history is always secondary to the story.

But here, apparently, because Dan Brown got some facts wrong, everything The Religious Right tells you must be true.

Oh dear. Newcombe has already stepped off the deep end and he’s barely gotten started.

Why do we hate plastic baby Jesuses? Newcombe doesn’t know. He’s jumping from one absurdity to another, all without telling us, as he puts it, why people are “ready to throw the baby-in-the-manger out with the bathwater.”

And having already related how Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America (she’s the one who said Obama got elected twice because young people are stupid, which firmly establishes her Religious Right bona fides) once told him in an interview,

When you see the atheist attack manger scenes, you might think, ‘This is an innocuous kind of thing. What do they have against a manger scene for crying out loud?’ It gives you some idea of how powerful Jesus Christ is. If He were not powerful, what would they care?

You have to ask yourself, when did Dan Brown become so powerful that Newcombe felt the need to attack him? After all, in Crouse’s own words, “It gives you some idea of how powerful Dan Brown is. If he were not powerful, what would Jerry Newcombe care?”

Okay, let’s add another absurdity to the list. And we still don’t know what I have against little plastic baby Jesuses on government property. I mean, other than the fact that they don’t belong on government property without an accompanying Festivus pole and the odd baby Beelzebub (hopefully not also plastic).

But having attacked the historical accuracy of Dan Brown’s novel, Newcombe begins to feed us a bunch of historical inaccuracies of his own, of the type one might expect from somebody who doesn’t think “big government” freed the slaves. These include saying that,

  • Jesus was worshipped as God immediately (there were plenty of Christians groups who believed a great many different things about Jesus);
  • That because John says Jesus was “co-creator” (with himself, apparently) of the universe, that all other earlier beliefs about Jesus are superseded (because Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not see Jesus like John did);
  • That since Jesus was divine (not proven yet) why would anyone think it odd he could turn water into wine or walk on water, or rise from the dead? (Other events also not proven).

Let’s face it, one thing you cannot prove does not prove another thing you cannot prove. One thing being untrue does not mean something else is true. We’re getting into Pythonesque territory here and we are still no closer to knowing what I really have against plastic baby Jesuses at city hall.

Don’t make me stamp my feet, Jerry. Tell me!

And then it occurs to me. Does Newcombe not know himself? I’m beginning to wonder. After all, as I pointed out above, Newcombe is the guy who rushed to Jim DeMint’s defense in claiming that “big government” did not free the slaves. Yeah, it wasn’t like the president signed an executive order or anything emancipating the slaves.

Obviously, he is not the best guy to go to for historical facts.

Generally, one might expect an argument for or against something to lead from one point in a logical progression to another, but that is not the case here. There is nary an “if A then B” to be found. A bunch of wild objections against a historical novel followed by a bunch of easily disproved claims about early Christianity do not a cogent argument make.

I’m aging here, and this is time I cannot get back.

No part of this diatribe has so far led us to an answer. But then, in the very last sentence, Newcombe tells us, as though everything he has said has led up to this:

So why the opposition to Jesus, at Christmastime or otherwise? Jesus summed it up in one sentence: “Light has come into the world, but men prefer darkness because their deeds are evil.”

Wait! What?

Are you kidding me?

This is like the time I read N.T. Wright’s 700-page scholarly treatment of Jesus’ resurrection only to be told at the very end that Jesus must have been resurrected because he had to have been resurrected, that nothing else is possible.

Are you kidding me? That book should have been one page long, and Newcombe’s op-ed could have been wrapped up in a single paragraph!

This a line from the Gospel of John, by the way, John 3:19 to be precise. Another line – like the co-creator thing – from the last gospel to be written. John differs from the so-called Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) in a number of ways. Which is not surprising as it reflects a more “evolved” view of Jesus than the earliest gospel, Mark, or the other two, which use a lot of material from Mark. Not that Matthew and Luke are identical to Mark. They are not. They also differ in a surprising number of ways.

Quite obviously, however you feel about plastic baby Jesuses, not everything even those three gospels say about Jesus can all be true, let alone everything John says about Jesus. Where material in one contradicts material in another, aren’t you sort of obligated to pick one over the other?

Personally, I think it’s amusing that Newcombe thinks the most significant thing about Jesus is that he was born. Really, it’s not a big deal. Everyone gets born. The big deal, even according to Christianity (after all, Paul doesn’t care about his birth, only his death), is that Jesus died.

If Jesus had lived to be an old man, and withered to old age like the rest of us, we wouldn’t be talking about little plastic baby Jesuses right now. We’d still be celebrating the Saturnalia or the Birthday of the Invincible Sun or my own Heathen Yule, waiting for Odin’s Wild Hunt to cross the sky in place of a fat guy in a red coat.

Look, it’s obvious why we object to those baby Jesuses and I said it at the outset. It’s because they are an embrace of a particular religion by our governments. As such, they exclude the rest of us who don’t follow that religion. It’s really very simple. It has nothing to do with wanting to walk in the darkness, unless those plastic baby Jesuses also light up.

I mean, yeah, the plastic baby Jesuses’ are gauche and I’d hate to see my tax dollars go down that particular drain, but it’s not the plastic baby Jesuses’ themselves but what they represent: state-sponsored religion. Something the First Amendment frowns upon. Government should represent all of us, not just one particular religion. And that’s what the Religious Right – and Jerry Newcombe – doesn’t get.

Hello? There are a lot of us out here, various other religions different from your own. Why should get baby Jesus but all our other beliefs get ignored? Or our lack of beliefs? Government of the People, by the People, for the People, Jerry.

In the end, it’s not this that drives us:


But this:

Establishment Clause

It’s not a war on Christmas buddy. It’s a war for religious freedom for ALL those people, not just for a few.

26 Replies to “Why We Hate Plastic Baby Jesuses on our Courthouse Steps”

  1. “Government should represent all of us, not just one particular religion. And that’s what the Religious Right – and Jerry Newcombe – doesn’t get.”

    Nailed it. But it’s something the xians will never get, because it’d require a certain minimal amount of, you know, empathy and honest appraisal.

  2. My opposition to depictions of Baby Jesus? Look on his backside: “Made in China.”

    We can’t even keep the Baby Jesus industry from being outsourced.

  3. And yet the absurdity about the non-existent War on Christmas will go on. I’m not sure how we wake up, oh, 5% or maybe only 1-2% of the crazies who now believe in and support rightie ignorance.. We just need that couple of percent to open their eyes so that our democratic Republic can actually continue. We just need that couple of percent to understand what the separation of church and state really means and that it is not an attack on God, whoever or whatever they may think he/she is.

    Just a couple of million people need to open their minds. That’s all.

  4. …I don’t care if it rains or freezes ‘long as I got my plastic Jesus sittin’ on the dashboard of my car….

  5. this is such a massive propaganda bit for the religious right. They know that no one cares if they have baby Jesus on their lawns. So they push everything onto government property in order to get someone to fight back. That is the easy way of saying that the left is against religion. This is planned propaganda, and a planned war used by fundamentalists. and sadly real Christians go right along with it. Here in my town, less than a half a mile from me, a bunch of Christians( I should say Baptists who I do not consider as Christians) put a stone marker up in front of the courthouse dedicating it to Jesus. Of course they had to take it down and they knew full well they would. They gave them the opportunity to say that government is against religion, and their religion should be part of our government.

  6. Hay, David Barton, go hand a joint shaped like a Baby Jesus to a Rastafarian, now, THAT’S religious freedom!!!???
    Sorry Hraf, just had to do that!

  7. To keep in historical context they should be made in Israel or Palestine, somewhere within stoning distance err.. a stone’s throw of Bethlehem and Nazareth.

    Using that criteria maybe east central Pennsylvania qualifies too.[wink]

  8. I’m torn. I’m no Christian, but I can’t quite bring myself to consider a nativity scene at City Hall to be “an establishment of religion” by a law of Congress. Surely we have real government abuses to worry about, from which this sort of thing merely distracts, not to mention arousing unnecessary rivalries from intellectually challenged Christians.

  9. I may have a compromise. Keep the stable, the kings, whatever.

    But the scene has to display Mary prominently, with Jesus in the act of sliding from her vulva.

    No tidy it up and ‘Jesus flies into the manger from the back of the church on a wire’ crap.

    Jesus didn’t come from under a cabbage leaf. The stork didn’t leave him, already in a diaper.

    Yahweh can’t do that. Even for himself.

    If we’re going to be forced to celebrate a birth of a Western European god, I want to see the birth. The birth of western European royalty was historically a SRO event.
    The Lord father usually demanded to see his heir come out of its mother’s body. Add in his courtiers and attendants, Her courtiers and attendants, servants, midwives and hangers-on and birth was a well-witnessed event. No Esau tricks when the title to the land was at stake.

    So have your Nativity scenes. But only if Mary’s vulva is the focus. It’s traditional.

  10. It is not a matter of priority’s. if it was the end amendment would be our entire constitution. Religion has no place in government. Even if it applys to all religions, which it doesnt

  11. In a way, it’s not even about Christianity. It’s about power. The power to force someone else to do things your way. Like people carrying guns into a restaurant. The power to intimidate. Power equals control, and they all want control.

  12. The author of the article has mixed arguments in a malitious way. First of all, why don’t accept Jesus historically real? Has the man Jesus done something to offend you? If not, why not let Him be present in your home lawn and on the Court-house lawn? No one asks anybody to believe in Jesus-God! AS for all the miracles and things the Gospels say Jesus did, the author has overlooked the serious approach Luke has in opening his Gospel. He writes to Theophilus saying:Luke 1, 3 “…I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus” Luke does not take anything for granted before writing he checks out…. and comes up with the same stories, the other Gospels recount. You may believe in Dan Brown, as anybody is free to believe in Jesus. After all Christmas has been here much longer before Dan Brown….. And what is Christmas all about? Jesus is not hurting anyone!

  13. For his mishandling of the case, Pontius Pilate was punished: he was removed from governor of Palastine, and sent to Gaul!… Have a Merry Christmas!

  14. ‘goin’ 80, it ain’t scary,
    long as I got the virgin Mary
    sittin’ on the dashboard of my car…

  15. Plastic Jesus on court house steps (or anywhere else) is getting close to being an idol. Of course, it is only an idol if you make a big deal about it, like the religious right. Have these people ever read the Bible?

    The Bible is full of warnings against worshiping idols. The first book of the Bible to be written was Exodus. It is full of condemnations and warnings about idols. The gospels were among the last books of the Bible to be written. While Jesus does not use the word idol, he repeatedly talks about putting things before God and your neighbor. Worshiping the less than ultimate is idolatry. These people worship money, power, and plastic Jesus. Idols all.

  16. I’ve read your link djchefron! It does make sense. However, I may tell you that Europe is in somewhat worse shape! (I write from Italy, near Rome! And I’m 67!) Europe is so entangled with finance, and Italy in particular, that the middle classpeople are struggling to keep up with a “normal” standard of living! The poor are getting poorer, and no releif seems to be coming from the political choices governments take. Have a Merry Christmas, and lets pray for the better: BLESS, don’t dam (Romans 12, 14)! Merry Christmas

  17. There were 300 years between ‘historical’ Jesus and the establishment of Christianity as a major religion. Even then, it was only a big hit in the savage wilderness of barbarian Europe.

    Western civilization is no longer the dominant world culture. Its 400 year reign is ebbing and Christianity with it.

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