Thursday, December 21, 2006

Can't the holidays all get along?

Cruising through CNN.com late Thursday, I stumbled across this article:
http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/12/21/washington.nativity.ap/index.html

It's another case of winter holidays — Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa — and the problems that arise when government gets involved.

Religion and faith are generally a private matter. And if an individual chooses to evangelize and make it public, that is his or her right. However, individuals — and groups — have no right to ask the government to foist religious symbolism upon people of other faiths.

Yes, belief in God played a large part in founding this country, and it would be wrong to forget or shy away from the importance of religion and religious holidays in our culture. But hopefully our national awareness has evolved in the past 200+ years to the point where we no longer feel it necessary to enforce religion through government mandate.

And that's what a lot of proponents of civic nativities, menorahs, and the like seem to want. They want official, government recognition of the validity of their faiths. I think it's a pretty sad proposition when the strength of a person's faith is tied to government displays of religious symbols.

I love Christmas. It's the only winter holiday my family has ever celebrated, and I believe the spirit of Christmas should last all year. It's a time for love, giving, caring, sharing and acceptance. But I'm not offended, worried or paniced if my holiday — which happens to be a pretty big deal to a Catholic — doesn't get an endorsement from Big Government. I'm going to celebrate the holiday no matter what the government endorses or does not endorse, and that self-empowerment should be enough for anybody. Not to mention that my religious beliefs are no business of the government's, and the government has no right to peddle religion to me.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and holiday season; plentiful tables, full houses, and the comfort of loved ones.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Jon - I think your premise is basically sound, but your logic train goes off the track when you say we should have no government sponsored holiday displays with any hint of religious symbolism because our "awareness has evolved" in 200+ years. When 96% of the poulation is celebrating Christmas and 84% of the same population identify themselves as Christians, government recognition of the significance of Christmas is not government peddling religion, It is recognition of it, and that is all it is. Tracy City Hall isn't used for midnight mass, is it?
For our 200+ years, civic, state and the federal governments have recognized the significance of Christian holidays without enforcing one religion over another. Putting the phrase "enforce religion through government mandate" takes the debate in the direction of First Amendment, establishment clause, etc. Are you really saying that government funded religious symbols displayed at holiday time violate the separation of church and state?

JimF