Taking Government out of Christmas

A recent article in a small town newspaper began:

For years, atheists have tried to take Jesus Christ out of Christmas.

That first sentence is another one of those inflammatory phrases that is careful worded  to distort the truth. Speaking as an atheist, I have no interest in taking Christ out of Christmas.  Sharing Christ and Christmas are your right and I fully support that right. I have never met an atheist who says otherwise.

Then the writer goes on, in the next sentence, to rant about something totally different, conflating it with the first sentence, as if they are connected.

Christians want people to know what they’re for and the main thing we are for is Jesus Christ that means Christians want to keep Christ in Christmas and everything else.

He (or she) is complaining that schools are teaching there are other holidays, honored by other religions, at the same time as Christmas. The writer complains that Christmas should be the only one mentioned because Christianity is somehow special and deserves place of privilege.

Putting that nonsense aside for the moment, what I do want, along with many other atheists and believers in other faiths, is to take Christmas out of government and keep government out of Christmas (or any other religious holiday). I don’t want my taxes spent on any effort or any attempt at supporting or legitimizing or validating or approving or celebrating ANY religious beliefs, including my own.

Profess your beliefs as widely as you care to exercise the private effort and pay the cost. But not in any way that uses any part of the government, its authority, its money, its system or its people.

The article goes on to explain why that place of privilege belongs to Christmas and Christians:

Because Christmas is one of the few times that the world stops to consider spiritual truths . . .

Yes, the writer says “few,” but taken in context, it seems to be claiming exclusivity. If by “few” it is meant that there are not many religious holidays that celebrate alleged examples of divine love and peace, a survey of beliefs says that such a holiday is a major annual event in every major religion. Surely, “few” cannot refer to the numbers of people, far more in total than Christianity alone, who adhere to a religion with a similar philosophy at its core.

Apparently, this zealot has never heard of “Eid,” the three days of the “Feast of the Lamb”, celebrating the Old Testament encounter, repeated in the Koran, between God and Abraham, where he was ordered, and then restrained from stabbing his son to death.

This is then followed in Muslim beliefs by the The Haj, an arduous pilgrimage that every Muslim, no matter where in the world he lives or what responsibilities and circumstances he has, is required to make at least once in his life, even if it means he sells everything he owns to pay for a trip to a holy shrine in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

Our proud Christian has never witnessed the five-days of Diwali, the Hindu “Festival of Lights” in India, were hundreds of millions of families gather together in love and sharing of food and small token gifts. I have seen the streets of New Delhi blazing with real and plastic orange flowers, much like any downtown area in the USA in December offers green and red garlands.

And of course, that claim of special privilege slides right by Passover, the days that have been important to Jews for thousands of years before one of them became The Christ.

As matter of fact, Jesus Christ never celebrated Christmas. The Last Supper was a Passover supper. So if anything, it is the Christians themselves who took Christ out of his own celebration.

The list goes on and on through human history.

Obviously only one of these religions – and maybe even none of them – is the only true religion.

So, right there, in that single self-congratulatory sentence quoted at the start of this essay, we see that one Christian True Believer is totally unaware of the beliefs and practices of other religions. The arrogant assertion is that only he (or she) and their coreligionists profess divine love and goodness in a popular festival, as if popularity is proof of truth.

I do not need government to tell me what is right and good and true and faithful. If some people do, that is may be because they are insecure in their own belief and feel threatened by anyone who does not pay public homage to those shaky beliefs.

What especially bothers me about “true believers” is their blindness to the dangers to their own Liberty and the own faith, by the encroachment of government. Yet, a brief look around the world confirms over and over again, in history and still today – when any faith dominates a society, that is the “one true faith.” Anyone who dares say anything different will pay dearly, perhaps even with his life.

This was true in Protestant England, Puritan New England, Catholic Rome, Mayan and Aztec Americas, Old Baghdad and of course, is still true today in some countries.

So to those who persist on making any religious holiday the special time of any level of government, remember the old adage, “Be careful of what you wish for.” You and your own personal religious beliefs may become the apostasy of someone else’s government approved enforcement.

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