Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Reply: "we Americans are not all Christians, and we don't all celebrate Christmas"

In reply to the following comment at Rhode Island Outraged Over “Holiday Tree” | FOX News And Commentary: Todd Starnes:
Steve Stevenson: "I don't see any one trying to rename and change hannakah or the other days of celebration, just Christmas, making it a day to sell goods, not what it is about. But Christians are the ones being attacked here, as everywhere, which kinda makes me believe more that it is true, I respect all other beliefs, it is a free country, but Christians are being attacked not only at Christmas but everyday, put a cross in your yard and someone complains but put any other religious symbol up and no one cares. I salute the lady Rep for standing up to this, it is an important fight as anything else as it does effect freedom."
@Steve Stevenson: I think what's happening is that the unfair advantage that Christmas once had here in America each December is being righted... When store employees blindly wished everyone a Merry Christmas, it was no more or less of a slight to some non-Christians than "Happy Holidays!" (or "Happy Hanakkah!!," or any other festive but non-Christian greeting) is to some Christian shoppers today.

The fact is, we're not all Christians, and we Americans don't all celebrate Christmas... It's not exclusively the Christmas season, and they're not all Christmas sales, Christmas shoppers, Christmas concerts, Christmas pageants, Christmas decorations... While I'm sure it was nice back in the days when the mob ruled, and non-Christians were supposed to just grin and accept it when their whole town and country celebrated Christmas all around them, those days are over now... Now we protect the rights of the minority, too...

I'm sure stores would LOVE to wish every person celebrating a particular holiday the greeting most appropriate to them--and I bet that in almost every case where the clerk is sure of the holiday a particular customer celebrates, they do (and I'm fully down with those "It's OK to wish me a Merry Christmas" buttons some folks wear, so that clerks and cashiers do know)--but one's religion is not tattooed on the forehead... Wishing everyone happy holidays covers all faiths, and New Years, taboot... (And it's better'n wishing everyone Merry Christmas on Mondays, Happy Hanukkah on Tuesdays, Sweet Festivus on Wednesdays, ...)

The tree thing is a little more silly... Though it's origins are pagan, a decorated evergreen is known as a Christmas tree, these days... but there is nothing wrong with making the yearly lighting ceremonies more inclusive by also including non-Christian decorations, and billing it as a holiday lighting festival... a Festival of Lights, as it were...

Or, if a locality can afford it, have a Christmas Tree Lighting... And then have a Menorah Lighting Celebration, and / or a Kwanzaa Festival, and / or a HumanLight gathering, so it at least looks like the town or city is trying to meet the needs of all of it's residents, as opposed to only addressing the needs of the majority faith and culture. (Another great thing about America is that we defend the minority against strict majority rule... Even if there's only one non-Christian, he has as much right to have his faith recognized and celebrated by the local government as the Christian majority, and every right to complain if he believes he is being treated unfairly before the law.)

As for the rest, it's kind of in the eye of the beholder, I suspect... While I don't know where one would go to find proof either way--I'm offering no more or less evidence than you are--I suspect that there are proportionately no more complaints about Christian iconography than there are about non-Christian (sacred or secular) iconography, and that a whole lot of the complaints are based on height, zoning restrictions, community covenants, or other non-religious issues, besides.

Posted 11/30/11, 4:14 PM

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