First things first: A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my fellow bloggers! I hope it was special for everyone.
Which brings me to something I wanted to muse about momentarily. There seems to have been much news and commentary lately regarding a so-called "assault on Christmas." I read a news item referring to a woman being fired for saying "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays" to customers at her place of business. At first blush this seems an outrage. Five minutes with an employment or First Amendment attorney, however, and one might begin to see things differently.
Let me say from the outset that nothing about Christmas is worthy of assault. What to many religious people appears to be an assault on their faith is really a subtle shift in the cultural zeitgeist. By this I mean to suggest that the cultural dominance of Christianity in America is slowly and inexorably diminishing. The challenge may lie in convincing Christians that this is a good thing and in their best interest. The very preservation of Christianity in our culture depends not upon its dominance but rather on the recognition and preservation of other world views - religious and non-religious alike.
The truth is religious people, especially Christians, have had their way with American cultural influence for a very long time. But as our country evolves toward a more representative and inclusive brand of multi-cultural society, it is important that minority religions, as well as the religiously skeptical, be allowed the freedom to express their ideas without being made to feel inferior or less relevant and with the protections of pertinent law.
As Barack Obama said in 2006, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers." See Barack Obama On Religion and Politics. This concept is simply difficult for many Christians to accept; and espousing this kind of thinking does not constitute an assault on Christianity.
It makes perfect sense that nativity scenes be displayed on the lawns of churches and museums and not on the lawns of town halls. Adherence to the principle of church-state separation is critical to the protection of free religious expression. Government can not be seen as promoting or preferring one religion over another precisely because as guarantors of free expression such an imprimatur would subvert the very freedoms it seeks to guarantee.
Christmas will survive - even thrive - in a culture of religious plurality and government neutrality. Such is the way with things as special as Christmas.
2 years ago