Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rick Perry, Putting the Ho in Christmas

Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) signed a bill earlier this week to protect the right of Texas teachers and government officials to say Islamic and Hindu greetings to each other during the holiday season. No, wait, that's not right.  That's not what the bill says.  The bill only endorses such holiday greetings by Christians and Jews: "a school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including 'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Hanukkah,' and 'happy holidays."  I guess the sponsors were too busy to even worry about finding out how other religions exchange greetings during their religious holidays to also include them.

Christmas has taken on a secular non-religious meaning also in our society. And so long as the secular meaning is intended, I have less of an issue with the Constitutionality of such "Merry Christmas" legislation. However, it's hard to imagine viewing Happy Chanukkah without religious meaning which does create a more direct Constitutional issue.  As does the very intentional exclusion of other religion's holiday greetings. In Texas, Christian & Jewish holiday traditions are protected. Other religions, not so much.  

However, the secularization of Christmas is something we Christians have done to our own holiday, by allowing the watered-down corporate commercialization of it. And this legislation, I suppose, is a lame attempt to make that acceptable by force of government instead of just demanding that our religious holiday and traditions no longer be commercialized by the retail giants in pursuit of profits. So later this year, I will appropriately greet Mr. Perry with a greeting he has truly earned: Ho, Ho, Ho!

Since none of us have actually met God in the physical sense, all religions are purely based on faith. But faith in which god, yours?  Maybe you and I worship the same god, in exactly the same way, and both of us would answer every religious question in exactly the same way, which is highly unlikely and would be quite unusual, or maybe we don't and we have significant differences in our interpretations of our chosen faith(s), but we should still both also recognize that it is not the proper role of any government to make that choice for any of us.  Or to promote one over another or to help create any atmosphere where not to choose the one they like, or the most popular one with our neighbors leads to ridicule, shame, hatred, bigotry, or any other negative consequences other than those God actually intends and can carry out without our help.  And God does not need your or my help in sorting that out, nor does god need the state to do this work for him/her.  Your opinion on this subject is just that, your opinion.  As is mine.  We do not have to agree.  

That is actually what religious freedom means.

I can and do believe in God, and at the same time, that others need not agree with me and should be free to make their own choice on the matter without the involvement of government to push them down a particular path.  True faith is setting an example for others to follow and trusting they will make the right choice by your example.  It does not come from lecturing others into submission, or by necessity of government chicanery.

It is exactly this intolerance of other's religious choices that has been the leading cause of most wars throughout history. Even the current U.S. war in Afghanistan.  And the next one brewing in Syria.  War happens when you try to use government to force your religious opinion down others throats.  The lesson from history is that it's the most common reason.  But it's not only the leading reason for wars among nations, it's also the leading cause for cultural wars between neighbors.

Government should not endorse the majority's religious intolerances.  Nor should it take sides in religious disputes among it's citizens. Governor Perry feels strongly that his side should win. Because those who practice other faiths are second class citizens. They do not deserve equal treatment in any true sense of the word. Let us do what we want, y'all just stay out of our way.

As to this whole "Merry Christmas" issue, the solution for Christians is not to pass laws approvingly endorsing religious behavior by school teachers and government officials, while simultaneously not likewise endorsing it for Islam, Hinduism, or other faiths, it is for all members of Christianity and particularly the leaders of all sects of Christianity to rise up in unison against the commercialization of the birth of their savior. But, of course, they probably see that as too difficult, too much work.

If Governor Perry truly wanted to serve his Christian faith, he would call for and sign a bill to end the commercialization of Christmas.  It would not be popular, but God would appreciate it more.  Instead, commercial greed and the corporate commercialization of Christian holiday traditions wins again.  

Isn't "money is the root of all evil," a Christian saying?

Is it possible we will all ever be able to just get along?  
I dream of a world where all religions are tolerant.

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