Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Almost Christmas Season - War Resumes!

In Mother Jones magazine: Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) appeared at a prayer breakfast just after the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 240,000 people.  DeLay read a passage from Matthew about a non-believer: "…a fool who built his house on sand: The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined."  Then, without comment, he righteously sat down.

The Religious Right (RR) has been using the last few year-ends to complain ever more stridently about a “War on Christmas” as if such a war actually existed and, if it did, that such a war was immoral.  This effort on the part of high profile pundits has filtered down to the local level – it is now not uncommon for local politicians and citizens of many typical American communities to gripe about how “radical secularists” are trying to destroy, prohibit and/or defame Christmas, Christians and Christianity.  It will be shown that these complaints are at best based on ignorance and at worst are a calculated hypocrisy.

At the same time, the incredible arrogance of the Religious Right and their need for conformity and control inevitably has led to the most immediate result of their campaign: a “War on Common Decency.”

To provide evidence that this seemingly orchestrated campaign to make Americans believe there is a “Waron Christmas” actually exists here is what some RRers have said:

From the Conservative Voice, By Michael l J. Gaynor: “The so-called non-existent war just reached my town. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Town of Huntington, on Long Island, New York, was targeted by a young attorney who got his name in Newsday, Long Island's notorious secular extremist newspaper, and hopefully will be boycotted by all persons who are friendly to the free exercise of religion and patronized by people like himself, since people should spend their money to support their ideas instead of contrary ones.”  (Go to http://www.theconservativevoice.com/articles/article.html?id=10671)

I’m sure INQUIRER readers will be surprised to learn that Newsday, the same newspaper that publishes the bigoted and anti-secularist God Squad column each week, and has no corresponding secularist counterpart, is a “notorious secular humanist newspaper.”  Wait ‘til Newsday finds out that they’re secular humanists – what will Raymond Keating do?

Of course, this brouhaha referred to in Huntington, Long Island, home of the INQUIRER, is the result of the Religious Right’s arrogant and aggressive tactics regarding the public square – the public square that they believe they own for their own personal religious promotions, from “God Bless America” signs to Christian nativity scenes.  They are so used to ramming their beliefs down the throats of others that they are shocked when someone simply points it out, let alone takes action.

Would the Religious Right stand on the sidelines if “secular humanists” had an “Imagine There’s No Heaven… and No Religion Too…” sign on public property to commemorate John Lennon’s death?  Answer: Don’t make me laugh!

Mr. Gaynor’s column then proceeds to name companies that have “banned” Christmas from their retail ads and advises readers to tell these companies that they are offended by the omission.

It would be easy to dismiss or simply ridicule Mr. Gaynor; and truly that is all he deserves, but the unethical nature of his efforts must be pointed out.  He writes that readers should let companies who substitute “holiday” for “Christmas” know that they are offending shoppers with their “anti-Christan and anti-Christmas bias.”

Imagine!  Mr. Gaynor cannot deal with the idea that someone else does not handle Christmas or the holiday season in the same precise manner as he.  It does not matter that hell will freeze over before Mr. Gaynor pays the same respect to a Muslim, Hindu, Scientologist or secular humanist…  This is the arrogance of faith at its finest.

Bill O’Reilly of FoxNews has been one of the leaders of the “War on Christmas” myth.  In 2004 he shot this salvo:

“Christmas under siege — the big picture. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

All over the country, Christmas is taking flak. In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the holiday tree and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores, [that's] Macy's, have done away with the Christmas greeting, "Merry Christmas…"

Secular progressives realize that America as it is now will never approve of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, legalized drugs, income redistribution through taxation, and many other progressive visions because of religious opposition.

But if the secularists can destroy religion in the public arena, the brave new progressive world is a possibility. That's what happened in Canada.”  (Go to http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140742,00.html)

Oh: Blame Canada!

So here is O’Reilly’s thinking: The Religious Right has a special right to have the government promote their religious holidays in the manner they prefer, but it cannot and must not promote any sort of secular neutrality, or dog forbid, atheism.  As if atheism has ever been promoted by a US government!

They either truly believe that neutrality equals bias, which leads one to question their intelligence, or they know better which leads one to question their integrity.   This writer leans towards both explanations.

John Gibson, also of Fox, has written the, so far, definitive book on the subject: The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.

The book description that one finds on Amazon.com is very informative:

“Yes, Virginia, there is a war on Christmas. It’s the secularization of America’s favorite holiday and the ever-stronger push toward a neutered "holiday" season so that non-Christians won’t be even the slightest bit offended.

Traditionalists get upset when they’re told—more and more these days—that celebrating Christmas in any public way is a violation of church and state separation.  That is certainly not what the founders intended when they wrote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

For instance:

• In Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the words "Merry Christmas" while at work

• In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall

• A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas carols

Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project

Millions of Americans are starting to fight back against the secularist forces and against local officials who would rather surrender than be seen as politically incorrect. Gibson shows readers how they can help save Christmas from being twisted beyond recognition, with even the slightest reference to Jesus completely disappearing.

The annual debate will be hotter than ever in 2005, and this book will be perfect for everyone who’s pro-Christmas.

What about these “examples”?

In the Illinois case, the Attorney General overruled a supervisor of some state employees one month after the supervisor tried to enforce a ban on “Merry Christmas.”  Yes, that’s right, Mr. Gibson’s first example of the “war” consisted of one grumpy supervisor who was quickly chastened.  (Go to http://www.renewamerica.us/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3002&start=15&.) 

The banned “Christians” in Rhode Island?  An individual (whose case was eventually summarily dismissed in court) apparently had challenged the use of the lawn for display of all religious symbols (not just Christian) in a public square in Rhode Island.  It was found that many displays, including secular ones, could easily be applied for and allowed.  The court decided that religiously themed displays could not be discriminated against.

Once again, a pathetic example!  Is this part of an orchestrated war on Christmas as Mr. Gibson and others imply?  Once again, stupidity or dishonesty are the only explanations for why this example is presented as part of a “war.”

What about the New Jersey ban on “Christmas Carols”?

According to MSNBC (we’re sure this is also a secular humanist front), and other news sources, the ban on religiously themed music is an acknowledgment of the growing non-Christian diversity of the public school population and the fact that Christians have no right to have their sacred music played than do Jews, atheists or anyone else, no matter the time of year.

Mr. Schwartzberg, whose young children are about to enter school (in Maplewood, NJ) said (bad) memories (from his own childhood in the Bible Belt) surfaced this month when the South Orange-Maplewood school district decided to ban instrumental Christmas carols at school-sponsored holiday concerts…

Schwartzberg said a line can be drawn.

“When students are compelled to engage in evangelicalactivities — even without intent or proselytizing — with the alternative being nothing except to sit out, I think that’s not appropriate.”

A school board decides that it may be in poor taste to shove Christian music down the throats of its substantial non-Christian student body and some spoiled Religious Right apologist seize upon the opportunity to fabricate a mythical “War on Christmas.”  Please note that all Chanukah based music was also banned.  Some war on Christianity!

How about the final teaser – Arizona school officials ruling it unconstitutional for students to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project?  After searching the web, including the website of the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona Christian defense group, nothing can be found that ties together the gist of this claim.  Perhaps it is, as the others were, an exaggeration that did not target Christmas or Christians, or it is an outright fabrication.  Duly noted on the website was an effort by the ADF to mobilize attorneys to defend Christians in public schools, but this “case” was not mentioned.  (Go to www.AllianceDefenseFund.com .)

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