Thursday, December 01, 2005

The War On Christmas

There've been some people complaining of late in the media about some sort of "War on Christmas."

Apparently, people are getting upset because the evil secularists in this country have been making a concerted effort to become more inclusive of the beliefs of others. The seemingly-innocuous, yet apparently-insidious "Happy Holidays" is an oft-cited example of how Christmas is being marginalized.

There are, as usual, two sides to this issue.

On the one hand, some of the stories that have been reported are pretty ridiculous. Take this one, for instance.

She asks [the post office employee] if they have any classic Christmas stamps and the man pulls out a couple of sheets of last year's Madonna and Child. Mom notices he doesn't seem happy and he says to her, "These are all I have and they'll be the last you ever see." Mom asks, "What do you mean?" He explains the USPS will not be issuing any more "religious" stamps.


Mom is momentarily stunned. She then raises her eyebrows a bit and asks, "Are you allowed to say 'Merry Christmas' to us?"

The man's face falls and he lowers his voice in answer, "No. We can only say 'Happy Holidays,'" he tries to smile at her, "But if you say 'Merry Christmas' to me directly I will respond in kind."

That's hysterical and frown-inducing if it's true. I say if its true, because the story's been all gussied up in dramatic descriptions like "he tries to smile at her." Writing like this tends to indicate a certain willingness to bend fact.That said, forbidding an employee from uttering the words "Merry Christmas" is not only silly-sounding, its also quite possibly unconstitutional to limit the free expression of an employee's religion.

But on the other hand, post office employees work for the government, and there is a large and legitimate debate going on about the separation of church and state in America. As an employee of the government, promoting any one religion to the exclusion of others would violate the separation that some are in favor of.

I don't quite understand all the hubbub, myself. Why is saying "Happy Holidays" such a big deal? Bill O'Reilly helpfully explains that, without companies publicly advertising their well-wishes for a "Merry Christmas" and not a "Happy Holiday," our country will apparently fall into a secularized hell.

In the latest instance of decrying the purported "war" on Christmas, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "it's all part of the secular progressive agenda ... to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square." He then added: "[B]ecause if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious-based, usually."


I'm pretty sure that Christmas and Judaism are sort of entirely separate concepts, actually. So removing "Merry Christmas" from the public square wouldn't seem to have much of an effect on the peeps of Moses.

But look at what O'Reilly is saying here. If you take the focus off of Christmas, and refocus on the larger concept of wishing all religions a "Happy Holiday," you are not embracing religious tolerance, you are ensuring a slide into moral decay and social chaos. That tells me everything I need to know about Bill O'Reilly's respect for other religions, including Judaism.

Interestingly, Fox News has ornaments for sale on their website to help get your family in the Holiday...err...I mean Christmas spirit. The company site originally featured this description of their ornaments:

FOX News Channel Ornament Set - 3 pack - Product #:FOX21000700
Make your holiday tree really festive with a set of 3 ornaments from your favorite Fair and Balanced news channel.

Not long after several blog sites noted the irony of O'Reilly's employer engaging in such inclusive behavior, the description was changed to this:

FOX News Channel Christmas Set 3/pack - Product #:FOX21000700 Make your Christmas tree really festive with a set of 3 ornaments from your favorite Fair and Balanced news channel.

Think O'Reilly yelled at them?

(Fox info courtesy of Free Democracy)


At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Chris Short said...

I know myself and a band of other bloggers clued Fox into their impending hypocrisy. Thanks to our efforts (I'm assuming) things have changed.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

But have they changed for the better? Is changing "Holiday" ornaments to "Christmas" ornaments a good thing? A bad thing? What's your opinion?

I guess what interests me about this whole rhubarb is the way in which, what I see as a move toward recognizing the diversity of religions that celebrate during this time of year has been demonized as the efforts of godless secular humanists determined to topple Christmas from its current King-of-the-hill (pun partially intended) status.

And I think that says some interesting things about us. O'Reilly's comments, specifically, seem to paint the picture of a world hanging onto morality by a slender, Christian, thread. In that picture, other belief systems do not appear to matter.

What blog do you run, Chris? I'd love to take a look at it sometime.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

It's a good thing when you consider there's no such thing as a Hanukkah tree or a Kwanza bush. It's a Christmas tree and you hang Christmas ornaments from it. Now having said that I have no problem saying or recieving a "Happy Holidays!" but "Merry Xmas" bugs me unless saving a few letters is a necessity and not laziness. It to me smacks of someone trying to be "cute" like a tourist trap called "Ye Olde Stuffe Shoppe". Unless you're speaking Elizabethan English in there I don't want to see it.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

PS, I think if you click on his name you'll get his blog. ;-)

At 12:34 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Thanks for the hint, Cap. I love that someone as seemingly conservative as Mr. Short felt free to comment here. That's very cool.

I encourage him, and anyone else of a conservative stripe who might be lurking around these parts to go ahead and post their thoughts. If they are respectful, they'll get nothing but appreciation from me.


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