12/23/04 — Broaden the picture: More thoughts on eliminating ‘Christmas’ from the holiday

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Broaden the picture: More thoughts on eliminating ‘Christmas’ from the holiday

Efforts to pretend that Christmas is not a religious holiday have become so extreme that even the most devout Christians are losing their joyous spirit of the season. Maybe we all should lighten up, take a rest and come back with a new approach.

We Christians like to insist that everyone look at things from our viewpoint. If we ourselves would take some other beliefs into account, maybe we could address the problem with a little less angst, and maybe more effectively.

As we consider this broader picture, we — meaning Christians, people of other faiths and secularists — need to continue to recognize that Christmas is the name of a religious holiday. It is also the name of an official government holiday.

To try to ignore the name by substituting the word “holiday,” or by referring to the Christmas recess at schools as a “winter break,” is patently silly. So is a “holiday” parade’s ban of the expression “Merry Christmas” on a float, or forbidding Christmas carols in public places.

But while government should not prohibit religious references, it should not promote a particular religion. We should understand when people of other faiths object to a city’s use of tax money to build a nativity scene on the public square. Most Christians wouldn’t want to see a symbol of Islam there, either.

Besides, the government has no business appropriating our religion, or any other.

There are plenty of secular symbols of the Christmas holiday that governments can use to help make the season more festive — Santa Claus, reindeer, colored lights, and so forth.

Does that mean there is no place for religious symbols on public property? Certainly not. Public forums should be open to various ideas and beliefs, and none should be excluded simply because they are religious.

That, in effect, is what has been happening, and that’s why everyone is all worked up.

Published in Editorials on December 23, 2004 9:09 AM