Catholic League president Bill Donohue is hot under the collar about the War on Christmas. He’s annoyed at some of the requirements of living in a country governed by a secular Constitution. He laments:
A school counselor at an Arkansas elementary school has been told that she must remove her posting of a nativity scene on her billboard; her decoration was permitted for more than 20 years. Tulsa, Oklahoma has long had a Christmas parade, but this year it was renamed the Holiday parade.
And would it have been a problem if a school counselor had been told to remove public displays of a Wiccan celebration for Samhain or a Satanic celebration for the winter solstice? Or if city money had been prevented from funding celebrations of the Hindu festivals of Holi or Diwali?
The Constitution demands that public schools and publicly funded celebrations be religion-neutral. Isn’t that the best for both the Christian and the atheist?
In another article:
There are two ways government can practice neutrality: the tolerant way, which is to allow all world religions a limited period of time to display their wares in the public square; and the intolerant way, favored by liberals, which is to censor everyone. We vote for the former.
And then you have cases like Santa Monica, in which 21 spots for displays in a public park were distributed by lottery. Atheist organizations won 18 of them, and some Christians are up in arms. Sometimes when you play the “allow all religions time to display their wares” game, it backfires.
Here’s a simple solution: avoid using public land or buildings for religious displays. Easy, right?
Donohue seems to imagine that religions don’t have the opportunity to spread the word or that their existence is a mystery to people. Or perhaps he fears that Christians are so precarious in their faith that they must be frequently reminded of it.
Either he’s out of touch with reality or he doesn’t trust that Christianity’s message is compelling. Neither casts him in a good light.
Photo credit: Wikimedia
I don’t really care if people have public displays as long as they are fair-minded for any other public displays. Sadly, that’s not the case. I should be allowed to put up a Flying Spaghetti Monster wearing a Santa cap in a public area too then. The reality is that the religious intolerant would blow their stacks just the same, especially during “their” holiday. Any other time and they just might give it that look of disdain or disgust and meander along. If I say their display is offensive to my non-belief you have their hypocrisy the other way and the inevitable holiday derpyderpderp “it’s all about Christ” and “we are a Christian Nation” stampede.
It’s a double-edged sword. If you put up any display you are being an attention whore and if you don’t (as an atheist) you are allowing religion a right they feel they are entitled to whenever they want (because the solstice is not their true holiday). I do get tired of seeing how the Christians power monger through the holidays saying it was all about the birth of Jesus (albeit if he existed, his birth was more agreeably in August by scholars). It’s a Pagan celebration obviously hijacked by them and it feels more like their touchdown Super Bowl celebratory dance display every year.
To be fair, I don’t really mind seeing images of Santa Claus even though this is equally imaginary superstition. The thing is that everyone knows that Santa is completely made up and therefore innocuous. The other (Christian miracle birth) is plain willingly accepted mumbo jumbo (some times bat-guano-loco) belief that the faithful insist is the true meaning or “spirit” of Christmas…and Easter too for the resurrection.
I don’t judge them all this way, there are those who take their faith with a grain of salt. Recently, I was surprised to read something a Christian wrote in a forum where beliefs and non-beliefs are always having at each other and I complimented it (it was rather long so i’ll just put in the important excerpt):
“Yes, we know that Christmas is a Catholic holiday – the “Christ Mass.” It was set (up) as a mass to recognize the miracle of His birth. And yes, we know that it was intentionally superimposed upon a pagan day of celebration. That gave early Christians some degree of cover for their celebrations of a miraculous event. While others were revelling in the winter solstice’s mark of winter turning towards spring, with the beginning of the lengthening of days, it seemed perfectly accomodating to celebrate too. To share in the season’s joy with joy of our own, for our beliefs.
They use trees / we use trees. They have a feast / we have a feast. We give gifts / they give gifts. Its all cool – we’re all celebrating.”
To me, that was a complete acknowledgement that the holiday did not solely belong to one theology and I smiled when I recognized that at least some people of faith “get it”. It was a reminder to me that I need to also be tolerant… to a degree.
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