Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tis not the season for whining

Whining makes me grumpy when it comes in the name of Christianity. Listen, despite FOX News, there is no “war against Christmas.” Second, it’s time to stop moaning about materialism. Giving gifts has always been an inherent part of the celebration and Christmas gift-giving is inherently materialistic. Have you priced gold, frankincense and myrrh lately? Finally, if you complain when a clerk says, “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” get over it.  
Worry about that which actually threatens the meaning of Christmas. Congress may approve devastating budget cuts in programs helping those who are hurting, homeless and hungry while some Christians are complaining about the greetings some store clerk uses? Bah humbug…or “give me a break.”
While Christmas is a holiday for most Americans, it’s not a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus except for Christians. It’s a secular holiday, even for most Christians. Ask yourself, do you see people lined up for church services in December like they lineup for Black Friday sales at Thanksgiving?

Set aside Bill O’Reilly’s silly assertion that Christianity isn’t a religion but a “phil-o-so-phy” as he put it (can you imagine the uproar if Barack Obama had said that?). Christianity is a religion. If Christmas was a “Christian holiday” taxpayers couldn’t be required to pay government workers for not working that day. The Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Atheists, agnostics and people of non-Christian faith have challenged the tradition of declaring Christmas a state holiday.

If lawyers opposing the lawsuits argued the case like some Christians they’d have stood before the judge and said, “Your honor, Jesus is the reason for the season. This is the day Christians celebrate God sending his Son to live among us. We want all Americans to celebrate this day accordingly.” There’d be no paid holiday. Those who insist that everyone believe Jesus is the reason for the season seek the government’s help to “establish” Christian teachings. That can’t be done on the taxpayers’ dimes.

Christian lawyers didn’t make that argument in the courtroom. They offered evidence proving the secular nature of the day. Judges agreed. Therefore, many still get paid for not working on Christmas. If Christmas were solely a holiday celebrating the birth of the Lord of Christianity, a paid holiday for public employees would be unconstitutional.

So, don’t object when someone says “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Just say thanks for the paid holiday and go celebrate in the way you choose.

Furthermore, Jesus is not the reason for the season for non-Christians. That’s okay. Do you really think Jesus’ birth certificate on file in Bethlehem says he was born on December 25th? Please. We Christians appropriated the celebration of the winter solstice from the pagans, called it Christmas, and made it our tradition.
Still Christian zealots like the American Family Association encourage shoppers to boycott stores using greetings like “Happy Holidays.” They’re the same folks who think schools should teach our children how to pray. Schools aren’t responsible for teaching our children to pray and store clerks aren’t responsible for keeping “Christ in Christmas?”
The insistence of some Christians on building crèche’s on public property, singing hymns at kindergarten Christmas plays and requiring the use of religiously-correct greetings makes the case for those who believe the government violates the 1st Amendment by recognizing Christmas but not the holidays of other faiths.
Fellow Christians, that leaves it to us. Respect the beliefs of others while observing your own. For me and most Christians “Jesus is the reason for the season.” If you share that belief, fine. Make it so for your own family. Take your children to church, teach them the Gospel story of Christmas, and take personal responsibility for teaching them the meaning of the day. Busy yourself with the celebration rather than concerning yourself with how others choose to celebrate.
To all…enjoy the holiday and the freedom to celebrate it as you choose. Happy holidays.

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