The War On Christmas Debate
The question Austinstar posed is simple enough but the answer is not as simple. How did we get here? For some 200 years, our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy and our Constitution included a Bill of Rights that has, as part of the First Amendment, a Freedom of Religion clause. In 1947, the Supreme Court in the Everson vs. Board of Education case, in a 5-4 decision ruled for the "separation of church and state" to include banning state funding of transportation to parochial schools. This landmark decision led to numerous subsequent decisions by the court to remove any presence of religion in the public square. This was a mistaken interpretation of the original intent of the Constitution especially the "establishment clause" in my opinion and the cause of numerous debates on this topic ever since.
In an indirect way, the root of all problems related to this topic originated at the Supreme Court. It is the unintended consequence of a bad interpretation of the Constitution.
Separation Of Church And State
This wall of separation which has been used by many to justify all kinds of actions is not in the best interest of our republic. The Constitution as written is quite clear. The establishment clause was put in to prevent a government from imposing a specific religion on the people. Knowing the history of Europe and the British Crown, many people escaped to the New World seeking religious liberty. They did not want for example a Church of England as they have in the United Kingdom or a State Church as exists in Germany.
The genius and generosity of the founding father is to prevent the State from any influence over the religious practices of the various colonies. Even though the majority of the population at the time was Protestant, they did not want it to be forced on all the States. This is the key to understanding our history and our success as a nation.
The perversion of this "separation" is interpreted by some to be that no religious related subjects can be part of our government. The ACLU and other humanist groups has pushed this idea on the public. This has not always been the case and now it is front and center. Why?
Difference Between Popularity And Discrimination
Some use the term equality to justify their opposition to Christians. They think it is discriminatory to celebrate one religious holiday and not another. I think they are misguided. The reason Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter are celebrated in public schools is due to their popularity with the community they serve.
Let me explain with an analogy. During the Christmas season, almost every radio station you tune to plays Christmas Music continuously. Why is that? Are they being discriminatory against non-Christians? or are they just filling the wants and needs of their audience? If people stop listening, guess what, they will change their playlist or they will go out of business. That is the free market at work.
The school system fulfills the same needs of their community. It is a matter of common sense and logistics that certain holidays are designated because of their popularity among the students and the teachers. In NYC, a large population of teachers are Jewish. That is why the schools close on certain high Holy days of Judaism, not because of favoritism but because it makes common sense.
If for example, a local school district has a large population of Muslims or Buddhists or whatever other religious affiliation, and the school board decides to modify their school calendar to celebrate one of their holidays, I have no problem with that. Popularity, not discrimination is the key.
A Simple Analogy
Another analogy to drive this point even though it may not be a perfect fit. Suppose you are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at someone's house and 90% of the people there are meat eaters and 10% are Vegetarian. The tradition of Thanksgiving is having Turkey as the main course. Would you want the host to change the menu to Tofurky to accommodate the 10%? Of course not. The host may make accommodations by providing extra vegetarian dishes so that they can all enjoy the celebration. By the way, by serving turkey, they in no way can convert the vegetarians to start eating meat.
It is the same idea with Christian celebration of Christmas. It is not discriminatory against other religion or faith.
Christianity and Islam - Not All Religion Are Equal
In various comments on HubPages, I've come across certain people making the equivalence argument between Christianity and Islam as both containing extremists that causes war and violence. That is a false narrative. I challenge anyone to come up with a Muslim country that offer the same religious freedom that we have here in the United States. You can't. We, as a Christian Nation, are the most tolerant of all faiths. We welcome immigrants on the order of over one million legal immigrants per year. We go to extreme to protect the innocent and the minority. We are the most generous of all nations.
Personally, I have nothing against Muslims or people of other faiths. I prescribe to a "live and let live" attitude with regard to others. However, I do have common sense and I acknowledge differences in beliefs and practices that may or may not benefit society as a whole. There is a reason why we are the most successful country in all of history. I believe it is our unique Constitution and our faith in a Higher Power and our Judeo-Christian Heritage that led us to this point. Why is the Middle East in constant turmoil despite the rich resources of oil? Why are Russia and Cuba and Venezuela and Greece in such poor economic state?
Two Types of Atheists
From my perspectives, I've come across two general groups of Atheists. Group one are the one's who either lost faith or have no faith and believe that what you see is what you get. They rely on Science as the final deciding factor in all things. They have no room for the supernatural. They do hold the same "live and let live" philosophy as I and they will go along to keep peace. They may disagree with people of faith but they will not go out of their way to attack or hurt people of faith. This group I have no problem with and I generally get along with them. Some of my own family members are such and I believe majority of Atheists are also such.
The second group are the Activists such as the ACLU and the American Humanists and other groups that promote a secular agenda. They will go out of their way to bring lawsuits and challenge the status quo. They will find contention where there were none before and cause chaos. This is the group I challenge. Their numbers may be small but they carry a bigger voice. They will use the court to get their way.
If there is a third group, I apologize. I have not seen them in my interactions so far. Please append to the comment section at the bottom.
What Is the Truth Behind This Assault On Christianity
The main driver behind this attack is the ACLU. They are the one that threaten local school boards with lawsuits if they don't remove any reference to God or Christianity in the public square. Why are they doing it? The agenda of the ACLU is to change America. They are insidious in using the ruse of defending civil liberties to attack Christians via the Courts. They have been successful by their tactics and they are emboldened to do more. The organization have done some good in certain areas and do hold some credibility. Make no mistake, they are anti religion at its core and anti-christian in specific because Christians are the majority.
You can do a google search on the ACLU and find numerous cases of lawsuits...
Some School Calendar (Notice the Missing Christmas)
Federal Holidays 2015
Religious Faith Is Personal
Let me address the issue of Religion and Faith. To me, the faith in a Higher Power, regardless of a particular religion, is a personal decision. It cannot be coerced or forced upon. By the same token, it cannot be legislated out of existence. Look at the former Soviet Union, where for 60 years, they lived under Communism. Yet, the faith of many Orthodox Christians remained true. The same goes with Communist China today.
Let me also address Atheism. It is a believe system or "lack of belief" as some Atheists proclaim. I have no issues with them even though I don't understand their basis. The problem is when they become activists and want to push their believe on others. When they post billboards mocking people of faith, they cross the line.
Some Items To Consider...
This "separation of church and state" has brought about the following:
- No prayer in schools (even silent prayer before sports competition)
- Removing the Ten Commandments from the public square (even though it is part of the Supreme Court Building)
- No mention of God allowed in Valedictorian speeches at public school graduations.
- No cross display on public land
- No Christmas tree or Nativity scenes on any public facilities (unless other religion is represented)
- Attempt at removing the word "Christmas" from school calendars (Even though it is a National Holiday)
- Renaming of Christmas tree to Holiday tree.
- Trying to Remove "In God We Trust" from our currency.
- No reading/studying of the Bible in history class. (most popular printed book of all times)
- No Christmas show at local schools (no Christmas songs)
Be honest, does any of the above items "establish a religion" directly or indirectly?
War On Christmas?
It's funny how every year around Christmas time, the topic of "war on Christmas" appear in the press. Most will report, it is a made up war by the extremist religious right...
The fact is it is an on going battle. It has little to do with saying "Merry Christmas" or not. It reminds me of some kids on a school playground. One will poke the other while the teacher is not looking. After a few times, the other kid got annoyed and deck the first kid. Right away, the first kid will claim being bullied... That is exactly what the ACLU types have been doing behind the scene. They create the conflict and then claim they are the victim. They will sue to get damages and repeat it year after year.
When retailer such as Target tell their employees to not say Merry Christmas, that is a freedom of speech issue. I feel bad for the employees of Target.
What Is The Way Forward?
The way forward is to follow the Constitution. To all my fellow citizens, if you want to change our nation, you have a perfect right to do so. If you can sway the public to your side, elect representatives that agree with your position, enact laws that are fair, I have no problem with that. That is the way it was intended. Not by judicial fiat as the ACLU and others have tried to achieve.
Another pet peeve of my is that some on HubPages have put forth the notion that we are not a Christian Nation and never was. That is false and an attempt to re-write history. Even our current President Obama has made the statement "we are no longer just a Christian Nation..." In order for that statement to be true, we would have to be at least a Christian nation in the past. Don't you think? I fully realize that our nation's demographics is changing. We are a diverse nation of immigrants. However, we have a common identity and a common heritage. Those who come here as my self have assimilated to our way of living and embraced our Constitution.
In this hub, I try to explore all the issues relating to this controversy. As a Christian, I presented my point of view. I identified two groups of people, who are Atheists and who may be offended by our Christian heritage. It is their right as Americans to change what they don't agree with. That is fine by me. I just want them to understand the process whereby change can occur within our Constitution.
The answer to the original question posed by Austinstar in my opinion is this. Either one wishes Merry Christmas and call it a Christmas tree or they should say nothing. The Happy Holidays is just political correctness gone amok. By the same token, I have no problem wishing my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah! or Muslims a Happy Ramadan!
The question for Atheists is which of the two group do you want to be associated with? Thanks for checking in and reading my hub. I welcome civil debate and comments.
Some Of My Other Hubs Related To This Topic
- American Civics 101
A basic primer on Civics every American should learn.
- The Real Story of Thanksgiving
A historical fact about Thanksgiving holiday.
- Atheist's Quandary
Some personal observations on the quandary that atheists face.
- What Would Atheists Do?
An honest attempt to learn more about Atheism by asking some questions.
Recent News Headlines...
- Is The Postal Service Declaring War On Religion? | The Daily Caller
Postal committee won't feature new stamps for Christmas or Hanukkah
- Atheist Group Sues To Remove All Crosses From U.S. Overseas Military Cemeteries
They say the government is paying to maintain what he called "overtly Christian religious symbols" in the 21st century.
- God redacted from high school graduation speech | Fox News
Brooks Hamby never wanted to be a rabble-rouser. He just wanted to thank Jesus in his high school graduation speech.
- Judge says giant cross must be removed from San Diego mountain - CNN.com
- County fights federal judge for right to pray
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