Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The battle for christmas

It's Christmas season. In todays newspaper is an article detailing efforts by so-called "conservatives" to have the official celebrations actually say what's being celebrated. In the past (oh, 50 yrs ago) in the U.S. the Christmas celebrations were clearly said to be about Christmas. The city/county/state would decorate a Christmas tree, the schools would be out for Christmas vacation, there would be Nativity dioramas on the courthouse lawn, etc.

But in the intervening years there's been a slide towards calling it "winter break" rather than Christmas vacation, and rather than decorating a christmas tree it would be a holiday tree, etc. Now, there's a clear legal reason for this. The U.S. Constitution clearly says there will be a separation between Church and State, and it's a reasonable legal interpretation to say that the State cannot be preferential to one religion over another.

And over the last few years the so-called "conservatives" have been working at all sorts of levels to promote Christianity (usually in a fundamental form) and Christian viewpoints all through the U.S. The recent push to get "Intelligent Design" accepted as teaching curriculum is obviously a subterfuge to get more influence of Christianity in America.

But, let's think about Christmas for a moment. One thing that strikes me is how, in truth, this is a very un-Christian celebration. It's fairly well known that many of the things about the Christmas celebration were elements of a "Pagan" holiday which the early Catholic Church wanted to replace with a Christian celebration. Hence they moved the date of Christs birth to fall upon the Saturnalia celebration, overlaying Christian themes on top of the pagan elements.

What about Christs birth has anything to do with a tree? Nothing. The tree is taken from the "pagan" holiday. As is the Mistletoe.

What about "Santa Claus"? The origins of that chubby guy are murky, but one thing I know is he has nothing to do with Christ. And Reindeer? And Elves? And Frosty the Snowman? What do any of these things have to do with Christ?

And what about the gross commercialism? Spending yourself silly buying gifts? Is that anything to do with Christ?

The article refers to The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought and I think "what 'sacred' holiday is he talking about???".

What is sacred about shop til you drop? Or what is sacred about stuffing yourself on a huge meal? Or what is sacred about murdering an innocent pine tree so you can watch it starve to death while it's hung with baubles and doodads?

I would be very happy if these people were to support celebration of a sacred holiday. You know, honor Jesus the Teacher who came to us. Honor his teachings. Consider again the teachings of love and forgiveness, or accepting and loving your neighbor as if they are yourself, and so on. But that's not what they're doing.

Instead what they're doing is telling people a big lie. That the people in America should feel persecuted, that their religion is being taken away from them. Huh? It is? Since when?

Clearly the founding fathers felt there was a grave danger if the Church and State were joined in one entity. In modern times we have examples of several fundamental Islamic countries to warn us away from joining a fundamentalist style of Church with the government. To the founding fathers their example was the fundamentalism rampant in England shortly before America gained its independence. The fundamentalists in England had a tight rein over the government, and ruled with a bloody iron fist killing anybody who got in their way.

Christianity is just one form of spiritual worship. This country clearly is a melting pot of every culture that's walked the face of this planet. Maybe it's that I live in California and it's a bit more obvious here. How can the Christians rightfully claim their religion should take pre-eminence in America over the other religions that are practiced here?? I'm not saying the Christians should be shoved aside or persecuted. But what's at stake here is the freedom of all Americans, not just the slice of Americana that celebrates Christianity.