In Charlotte, Vermont, in 2008, a school got hammered to take down its candy cane decorations because a grinch there says they have an overt Christmas message. Federal Reserve examiners in 2010 told a hometown bank that it must remove crosses, Bible verses, and Christmas buttons because they could be offensive. The Fed says the Christian paraphernalia violated federal bank regulations. This year, the owner of a New Jersey business faces thousands in fines because he installed a 40-foot tall inflatable Santa Claus on his retail store rooftop. CANDY CANES and SANTA! The Menorah and the Glitter Moon and Star for Ramadan probably stayed up at the school, though.
Every radio station has defaulted to Christmas music. I’m surprised we haven’t lost that, too. I don’t particularly like Christmas music but my radio has an off switch. I don’t have to listen to it if I don’t want to.
I was raised in a family that was Quaker on one side, Presbyterian on the other. I may not be as organized now as I was when I reached the age of accountability and joined the Presbyterian church but I am still a Christian. And, of course, a WASP.
You don’t have to be either.
Tomorrow is the day Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child and the meaning of Christianity. It was a pretty big day before the stock exchange took it over.
It doesn’t mean Do unto all the other religions, then cut out. Unless you are a Member of Congress.
Here’s the thing. If you offer food to the monks on Vesak, Buddha’s Birthday, I will honor your commitment to the poor. If you celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, I will honor with you the victory of Lord Ram over the demon-king Ravana. If you fast during Ramadan when the Qur’an was revealed to Mohammad, I will honor your patience and humility. If you celebrate the most solemn and important of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur, I will honor your atonement and repentance. If you light the candles of Kwanzaa, I will help you honor your heritage. And if you are a lib’rul atheist, I will not proselytize.
That maybe the most important message.
Not one American soldier in Afganistan has forced any man, woman, or child to convert to Christianity at the point of a gun this year.
You don’t have to be a Buddhist, a Hindu, Islamic, a Jew, a Kwanzaan celebrant, or an atheist. It is time, on this Christian holy day, to let Christians be Christians.
My right to impose my own beliefs stops at my property line (or the end of my nose when I’m out in public). The Charlotte, Vermont, grinch’s right to his own idiocy stops at pretty much the same place. It is time to stop accepting that “politically correct” credo and start honoring the true message of Christmas.
Scythian philosopher Anacharsis wrote in the 6th century BCE, “Wise men argue causes, and fools decide them.”
This column originally appeared on Christmas Day, 2008. It required very little updating.