COLUMBIA, S.C. (Christian Examiner) – For South Carolinians who fear their religious freedom rights are being violated in regards to Christmas or other holidays, the Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline is a source of legal advice.
Founded by the Palmetto Family Council for the first time this year, the hotline is not for complaints about Starbucks cups or people saying "Happy holidays," the organization says.
"Every year, we get random calls," Palmetto Family Council president Oran Smith told the State. "By formalizing it a bit we hope to help folks think through what is a real threat and what is Internet squawk."
The hotline, which will investigate legitimate claims and offer free legal advice, including referrals to attorneys, is currently researching a complaint about a government agency "banning a Christian symbol of Christmas from a person's personal space," Smith said.
The goal of the hotline is to facilitate communication about religious freedom and to provide free information about constitutional rights.
"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, according to the Post.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM VIOLATIONS
The hotline, which was established after Thanksgiving this year, has received about six potential religious freedom violations complaints from Christians. Smith said the hotline would speak to callers of any religion: "We're not interested in just one individual religious group or religious sect."
Smith said the hotline may remain open through January or longer based on need and interest from cooperating attorneys. The Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline will refer any cases to local attorneys or the Alliance Defending Freedom or Becket Fund for Religious Liberty as appropriate.
Ideally, however, the hotline will not yield any actionable lawsuits. "If things go as we would like, we would like not to receive any calls," said Smith.
The Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline is also willing to advise about other religious celebrations. "Our effort applies to any religious holiday observance — Hanukkah, et cetera, as well," Smith told the State.
Regarding the so-called "War on Christmas," Smith was moderate about the Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline's position.
"We have some groups that have said there is a war on Christmas and some groups that say there isn't," Smith told the Washington Post. "I'd say we're somewhere in between."
The Defend Christmas Freedom Hotline can be contacted by phone at (803) 733-5600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.