A state sponsored Christmas? What do you think?
You might be interested in knowing that HR 847 passed last week with flying colors. It would be worth your time to read through the text of this bill, and ponder the implications. Should the state 'officially endorse' Christmas? If so, why does the state also go to great lengths to ban any public displays of Christmas? Fort Collins, CO, has created a "Holiday Display Task Force", a sort of Ebeneezer squad whose job it is to make certain no public properties are tainted with religious displays, not even colored lights. One school in Wisconsin has changed the words of Silent Night to read: "Cold in the Night - Cold in the Night - I wish I were happy and warm - safe with my family, out of the storm - blah blah blah."
How many questions can I ask? Though there are dozens, a few come off the top of my head, and I welcome your response:
1. Is it actually possible to be a purely secularist state, with no public acknowledgment of the cultural role that faith plays in the lives of so many? If so, is it desirable?
2. Is it appropriate to pass this kind of bill as a way of honoring and supporting Christians, while not offering similar kudos to Judaism? How about Buddhism? Islam?
3. Are those who live in a pluralist society doomed to some sort of bland, faith free zone, in all public sectors? This is a real fear in Austria, where church bells and Advent markets still play an enormous cultural role in the December lives of Austrians, whether such cultural rooting has led to genuine faith on behalf of individuals or not.
4. A quick journey further to the east, in Romania and Russia, reveals that the decades of official atheism has left a cultural that is ethically bankrupt, as bribery, graft, embezzlement, and corruption occur at the highest levels in business. Yes, I know about Enron, and the present loan crises. But the difference is that here in our culture there is outrage, while too often our friends further east have not yet grasped a vision for how things could be different. I'd argue that the vision for ethical behavior which has permeated our own culture has been faith based. Like the bells in Austria, public accounting practices, the rule of law, due process, and the balance of powers have their deepest roots in the faith, tainted and myopic as it was (and still is in some ways) of our fathers. Don't tell me you can't legislate morality. Every law is a legislation of morality. The bigger question is, where do these laws come from? Judeo/Christian heritage? Natural law? Common Sense?
Our political season has been filled with candidates trying to be careful when parsing the role their faith will play in politics. Too much and you're a theocracy; too little and you're a rootless secularist.
Thoughts? - and however you respond: "Peace on Earth - And Happy Holidays!"