In the article “Christmas Losing Meaning,” I noticed some logical and factual errors that I need to address.
First of all, I think Jared may have misrepresented or misunderstood freedom of religion, especially in regards to our freedom of speech. He seems to believe that Christians should have the right to express their religion wherever they want. He seems to forget that freedom of religion is a two-way street. Freedom of religion means that the government may neither enhance nor inhibit religion.
Christians should not receive special benefits under the law just because they are the majority. The problem occurs when nativity scenes and other religious objects are placed on public property, so the government implicitly endorses Christianity. If this were allowed, the government would have to give equal access to non-Christian and non-religious organizations. I can’t foresee governmental endorsement of other religions being well-received among Christians.
In regards to Jared’s feelings of oppression, I think it is important to remember that Christians are the majority. The Pew Foundation, a nonpartisan and secular research organization, suggests 67 percent of Americans are Christians, nearly 15 percent less than Jared’s biased source would have you believe. Furthermore, just as Christians probably don’t say “Merry Christmas” to offend non-Christians, atheists and other minorities don’t utter “Happy Holidays” to upset Christians.
Jared mentioned the lawsuit in Santa Monica regarding the nativity scene in Palisades Park. His version of events misrepresented the truth: He intimated that there was only a Christmas display and that atheists fought to destroy it. The nativity scene was just one of the many displays of diversity at the park. Alongside it, there were celebrations of Hannukah and well wishes from atheist organizations such as, “[We wish you] an abundance of peace and joy this holiday season.” Other signs included pleas for rationality, such as a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “Religions are all alike: founded upon fables and mythologies.”
Many of the atheist displays were vandalized by Christians, which helped lead to the ultimate demise of the multicultural celebration in the park. From what I can tell, there was no oppression involved. The city’s statements illustrated a more complex array of problems, such as increased expenses from running the program. City officials had been considering ending the displays for many years, which further removes blame from atheist groups.
While Christmas may be losing its meaning in association with Christianity, I think that it may be gaining an additional secular meaning. I love Christmastime, though I am not a Christian. The BBC suggests that followers and non-followers of religions partake in Christmas celebrations to practice diversity, enjoy unique traditions and reunite with loved ones. In other words, you can enjoy Christmas without being a Christian.
Since Christmas, as Jared admits in the article, was co-opted from the pagan festival of Saturnalia, there is no reason why others cannot repurpose Christmas into an all-inclusive time of cheer and kinship without the need for religious overtones.
To everyone, regardless of whether you share my beliefs, I wish you a merry Christmas.