Sunday, November 20, 2005

More culture war nonsense

Is anyone else besides me weary of the so-called "Culture Wars"?

Here's a story in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that Rev. Jerry Falwell has added his support to, now get this, the "Friend or Foe of Christmas Campaign", sponsored by the Liberty Counsel, a "conservative legal organization". The story gives the details of a network of lawyers that will work to counter the ACLU's crusade to prevent various governmental entities from engaging in non-secular actions (i.e.. religious displays on public property, carols being sung in public schools, etc.).

Friend or Foe of Christmas Campaign? Is Christmas really in that much danger? Even if you believe as I do that the ACLU and others have gone overboard in their never-ending efforts to remove religion from the public (governmental) square, isn't "Friend or Foe" a little too much "in your face"? Why not call it the "Friends of Christmas Campaign" or the "Stop the Insanity Campaign" or something less confrontational? Doesn't anyone at the Liberty Counsel understand that such a confrontational slogan plays right into your opponent's hands?

Everyone on both sides here needs to take a deep breath and relax.

Let me talk to both sides here. First, I want to address the ACLU and their supporters. Look, I know you mean well, but the nation survived for nearly 200 years with public displays of Christmas and Christmas carols being sung by school children, so why don't you just give it a rest. Furthermore, millions of non-Christians have immigrated to this country in the last 50 years. They seem to have no problem with the dominant Christian culture, why do you? Typically speaking, it is nations dominated by Christians that are the freest in the world. You tend to view Christians as if they are the Mongol hordes. Christians are rightly proud of what they founded here on these shores and what it has become. Our country isn't perfect and it never will be, but compared to the rest of the world, it is a mighty nice place to be. You might want to give them their due every once and a while.

Furthermore, your tactics lately seem more like blackmail. I know how you work. For example, some city or county has a cross on its seal, you demand that the governing authority remove said symbol under threat of a costly law suit, governing body often caves in to your demands to save tax payers money. It is pathetic.

If you really want to do something about civil liberties, why don't you turn your attentions to the War on Drugs. There are tens of millions of people at risk of arrest for behaviors that are the morally no different than buying or selling alcohol, but to my knowledge your organization has done precious little work in this area (medical marijuana being a notable exception). The War on Drugs is by far and away the biggest rights violator in this nation. Nothing else comes close.

If Christians ever start burning heathens at the stake in this country, I'll be right along side you to fight them. But from my vantage point, your crusades seemed designed to give offense, not right real wrongs. Your organization is akin to the fable about the boy who cried "wolf", you see dangers were danger isn't present. One of these days, you may be right about a danger to our liberties, but because your efforts to date have merely marginalized you from the Christian majority in this nation, your warnings might not be heeded when they need to be.

Now to my Christian co-religionists. Don't be so confrontational with those that disagree with you in these matters of public policy. The fact of the matter is that the more confrontational you become, the more you feed their paranoia. I'm not saying you mustn't engage them in the courts, although it's not a bad idea. But if you must engage them, do it with a light heart. And if you lose, don't worry about it. Remember that it is the job of Christians to spread the Word. It is not the job of the public schools or the government in general to spread Christianity. People will still celebrate Christmas as they choose whether or not a religious carol is being sung at the local public high school or if there is no creche on the lawn in front of city hall. Is it silly for the ACLU to worry about these things? Yes it is. But if it is silly for them to worry about it, it is for you too.

One more word to my Christian friends. Get over this obsession with "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays". It is selfish, childish, petty and beneath you. If an employee at the local department store wishes you "Happy Holidays", take it as the well wishes it is meant to be. Politely respond with a "Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to you, too", and give the well wishes right back to them. Please understand that a stranger does not know your religious affiliations or beliefs and is merely being polite to a stranger.

Also, remember that the late December/early January time frame has been referred to as the "Holiday Season" for a long long time now owing to the fact that the Christmas holiday, New Year's day, and Hanukkah, (and now Kwansa) all occur during this time short time frame. Thus the term "Happy Holidays" was coined to encompass this entire time of year. It is a joyous time of year for Christians, and many non-Christians are happy for us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus even if they themselves don't celebrate the birth of Christ. Be generous of spirit and don't seek offense in the words "Happy Holidays" because no offense is intended. "Happy Holidays" is a wonderful phrase for all of us. So lighten up, Francis.

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