Thursday, December 29, 2005

Can I Get A Secular AMEN?!

Below is an op-ed piece in the commentary section of my local independent newspaper the Oklahoma Gazette []. It truly expresses how I feel about this whole "War on Christmas" debacle. Read it, digest, enjoy.

The Grinch who couldn't steal Christmas
By: Robin Meyers

Maybe you've missed it because you don't watch Kelly Ogle, Bill O'Reilly or "The 700 Club, " but the big news isn't the war in Iraq. It's the "war against Christmas."

The Grinch who would steal it is the American Civil Liberties Union. The barbarians at the gate of all things holy and sacred and necessary for the survival of Western civilization are secular humansists. They are on manger patrol. They are out looking for tablets with the Ten Commandments to smash and haul away - ironically, most of which are now left over Hollywood PR stunts for Cecil B. DeMille.

While a real war is killing and maiming, about which the president has now been forced to tell "half the truth so help him God, " the Christian right has invented its latest fake war to rally the troops and raise money. O'Reilly's "fair and balanced" fake news network recently ran 58 segments on the latest outrage from the "lunatic left," and not a single one on the genocide in Darfur. People in that hellhole are not so much interested in whether it's "Happy Holidays" or Merry Christmas." They are trying to keep their heads from being chopped off.

Meanwhile, back at the Entitled American Ranch, the Christmas that is reportedly under siege has now passed, and it was bigger and more pervasive than ever - perhaps dangerously so. In countless churches, in countless homes, around countless Christmas trees that were called just that, people wished each other "Merry Christmas, " and they worshiped the baby Jesus, and they gave each other expensive gifts to honor the birth of a penniless rabbi from Nazareth who talked more about the spiritual hazards of wealth than anything else, save the kingdom of God.

But as they sipped their eggnog, safe in a land with more religious freedom than anywhere else on earth, they fumed about the "war on Christmas." They did what every true Christian is supposed to do - make and keep an enemies list. They poured each other a big cup of despair and fed each other the cookies of persecution. "Woe are we" - the embattled, the last best hope to save the world from people who don't even believe hell.

What they have forgotten, or can't understand because they believe in the principle of "my majority rules" (as long as I'm in it), is that the ACLU, whose only client is the Constitution, is their friend, not their enemy. When they get picky about compulsory prayer in schools, or religious artifacts on public property, or sectarian prayers at sporting events where a captive and diverse audience did not come to worship or hear such prayers (and whose rights also matter), they are not being anti-religion, nor are they trying to "steal Christmas."

In fact, those who work to preserve the separation of church and state are the most important ally we have in the fight to preserve religious freedom. It may seem ridiculous sometimes, but all one has to do is consider the alternative - an American theocracy that is the Holy Grail of today's True Believers. The are within striking distance, and they know it - that is, as soon as they get rid of those judges who do not rule according to "biblical law," those "vermin in black robes."

Besides, in the end, nothing could be more unbiblical than to buttress the revolutionary ways of Jesus with the scaffolding of the state. The baby whose birth we just celebrated grew up to be an adult who saved his white hot anger for religious hypocrisy - those who argued over every jot and title of the law, but neglected to give a thirsty child a cup of cold water to drink.

If you really want to "save Christmas," then bring the manger home from the mall, and set it up in your heart. Feed the homeless, welcome the stranger and pray for your enemies - the ones you believe are already forgiven. If you do this, Christmas will not seem embattled at all. Just irresistible.

Meyers is minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church and professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.


Kellie said...

I like the article. Christmas happens to be at the same time as a lot of other holidays. It's my opinion that if someone says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, it really should NOT affect anyone all that much. I know I lived in the Philadelphia area which has a very large Jewish population.

People just have to have some agenda, I guess.

Kellie said...

People should not have to worry about saying Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever. They are words. If an athiest is told "Merry Christmas" what is going to happen?

Having said that, the Christian right wingers who freak out because stores say Happy Holidays should just shut up too. Like the article said, if you need someone to say Merry Christmas for it to be Christmas for you, then ugh.

Kellie said...

Sorry about the multiple comments, when I tried to post it earlier, it didn't seem to go. Then I checked before posting again, and it didn't look like the first one went :(

Toad734 said...

I can't imagine this piece got that warm of a welcome in Oklahoma. I have a big post on "Christmas" on my blog if you want to check it out. It essentially states that, like the pledge of allegiance and our currency that were both once secular, Christmas was at well and it was the Christians who stole these and turned them into their own.