There’s a new line of defense in the war on Christmas.
South Carolinians who find their religious freedom threatened this holiday season now have somewhere to turn: The “Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline” is up and running.
“If things go as we would like, we would like not to receive any calls,” says Dr. Oran Smith, president of the conservative Palmetto Family Council, which launched the hotline just after Thanksgiving.
The group plans to evaluate each call to determine whether there is a legitimate case to be made that religious freedom is being infringed. If there is, the council will refer the case to lawyers, either locally or with the Alliance Defending Freedom or Becket Fund.
In other words, the Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline — actually an email address and phone number — is not a place to air your holiday frustrations.
“We have some groups that have said there is a war on Christmas and some groups that say there isn’t,” Smith told The Post. “I’d say we’re somewhere in between.”
He added: “We’re not after Starbucks cup complaints or people wishing ‘happy holidays’ versus ‘merry Christmas.'”
Smith told the State newspaper that “we hope to help folks think through what is a real threat and what is Internet squawk.”
Despite its name, the Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline won’t be limited to people celebrating Christmas, Smith said. It will welcome all comers — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.
“We’re not interested in just one individual religious group or religious sect,” he said.
Still, he said, the approximately half-dozen complaints that have filtered in so far have been Christian in nature.
The Palmetto Family Council, which is associated with the conservative national group Focus on the Family, has advocated against same-sex marriage and abortion and promotes biblical principles and religious liberties. The hotline was created in part to further that mission.
“We thought it might be a way that we could provide a service to explain what is and what isn’t constitutional in that way and also connect to the larger issue of religious freedom in the nation,” Smith said.
The hotline will likely remain open into January and could survive even longer if the lawyers the council is working with express an interest, Smith said.
But don’t expect to hear much about the cases the council identifies: Smith said the group’s goal is to address each issue as quietly as possible.
“We’re not going to hold press conferences or point fingers,” he said.