A Constitutional Crisis Over . . . Candy Canes? Apparently So!


Skip Ash

January 9, 2020

3 min read

US Military



Just when you thought that the anti-Christian crowd could not become more unhinged, they become more unhinged. What’s the issue this time? The sale of candy canes (which they refer to derisively as “Jesus Candy”) at military post and base exchanges.

To the unhinged, the mere presence in military exchanges of candy canes with the name Jesus and a picture of the nativity scene on their packaging is offensive to their brittle psyches and constitutes unconstitutional government-supported religious proselytizing.

Oh my! Where’s the safe space for all those wobbly Soldiers and Airmen who cannot bear the pressure exerted by a passive message on a package of candy canes? Imagine finding a Christian message on candy associated with the birth of Jesus stocked in military exchanges during the Advent season to fulfill the desires of Christian Service Members. Shameful! Absolutely shameful!

It’s absurd, but even so, we must fight back. We have sent our own legal letter to clarify the law.

Yet, in truth, we may have temporarily dodged the bullet this time. After all, the constitutional “violation” was not identified and complained about until after Christmas 2019 had passed, meaning the shelves should by now be clear of the offending, constitutionally questionable product. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop the uproar over exchange employees having stocked the candy canes in the first place, thereby perpetrating—according to the complainants— unconstitutional Christian proselytizing of exchange customers, including customers whose glance may have unwittingly (and unwillingly) taken in the name of Jesus and the picture of the nativity scene on the packaging of the candy canes.

As I encounter these incessant moronic complaints, one thing really concerns me. Is our military really made up of people who are so instantly offended by items like candy canes in a wrapping mentioning Jesus? And, if it is, how will such people react when something serious comes along in their military service—like getting shot at?

As a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, I know the stock of our men and women in uniform is strong. The absurdity of these complaints trivializes both the intelligence and resolve of those who serve.

In essence, the folks who create an uproar about things like candy canes in military exchanges are folks who either fundamentally misunderstand and misconstrue the First Amendment or who intentionally do so in pursuit of a religion-free America. I believe that the folks who continually raise these issues in reality desire an America where all religious references and symbols are removed from the public square. They seek freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion, which is what the First Amendment guarantees.

Rather than recognize that we are a religiously plural country where we can believe or not believe as we wish and that tolerance is a two-way street, these folks seek to consign religious expression to the home and to church. They argue that we are a secular country and that religious symbols and other expression should be wholly removed from public areas.

Such views do not accord with our history or our Constitution. We at the ACLJ encounter and oppose these folks at every turn. But, they are insistent and active. That means we must be also. Please continue to assist us as we fight this ongoing battle to defend freedom of religion in the military against those who wish to censor and ban it.