Wednesday, December 28, 2005

More on the war against Christmas

Robert Meyer:

The “War against Christmas” has been a hot topic for discussion lately, even outside of the familiar venues. A letter to the editor by a local contributor broached an interesting subject about how Christians have borrowed Christmas symbols from paganism.

Among other things, the writer mentions that the Puritans rejected the Christmas tree because of its pagan origins. The thesis that he presents is basically this: how can Christians complain that Christmas traditions are being marginalized, when many of the traditions they uphold are of non-Christian origin to begin with?

While tipping our hat to the accuracy of his observations concerning both Christmas and Christian history, we could certainly extend this principle to the examination of other “Christian” holidays, (such as Easter) and arrive at the same or similar conclusions.

Yet such analysis entirely misses the real crux of the conflict. If certain retail stores or other entities had said that they were no longer observing long-standing traditions (such as the “Christmas Tree”) because of their pagan origins, he might have made his point. I would applaud this type of distinction.

Yet, that is hardly the case. We might ask whether the Puritans would have thrown out the Savior with the tree, as some retail outlets are more than willing to do. In fact, the true reason for discontinuing these practices, is a false perception on the part of some, that there is a halo around the Bill of Rights which creates the implied right not to be offended. Unfortunately, this is both a false and dangerous proposition.

In trying to be inclusive and unoffending, they become demonstrably offending and exclusive in their new approach. We might also ask what public perceptions led to this policy change? With the majority of the United States. still professing to be Christians, it is a wonder that they never considered whether that majority would themselves be offended by the changes.

Free exercise of religion isn’t realized by an exclusion of all. This is an attempt at negative neutrality that publicly squelches the free exercise of religion, but does nothing constructive to ultimately avoid conflict. It amazes me how the First Amendment, which protected the public’s free religious exercise from intrusions by the government, now is twisted so that the Establishment Clause is used to sanitize the public square from any mention of God.

By throwing out the recognition of Christmas, and everything that goes with it, you systematically throw out the baby with the bath water, or more precisely, throw out the baby and retain the bath water by declaring a “holiday” status without recognition of what is being reverenced and celebrated.

One wonders if religious minorities who don’t celebrate Christmas are thinking about when their own holidays will be attacked for having a “religious” component?

It is interesting to note that a position of “deliberate neutrality,” is by default an endorsement of the atheist/humanist position, since the atheist claims to be motivated by an absence of belief, and not an active choice to disbelieve.

How can anyone conclude that policy changes eliminating any mention of Christmas, whether or not some traditions were adopted from paganism, are not blatant attacks on the true meaning Christmas itself? While Christmas is a “holiday,” we can’t escape the true reason why we are celebrating it, nor should we.

In a society run amok with prostration to tolerance, it seems to me, that there should be an onus on the minority to graciously tolerate customs held by the majority of citizens.

Resistance Rampant, Whether National Review Likes It Or Not!


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