Wednesday, December 07, 2005

humbug and freedom from religion

Seems that some conservatives are irked that the Bush White House sends out holiday cards that don't say "Christmas" on them and instead wish the million-plus recipients a happy holiday season. One schmuck who got a card griped that the President claims to be a born-again Christian but "doesn't act like one".

Tim Wildmon, who certainly believes that he is holier than thou or me, heads up some organization called the American Family Association. Wildmon, son of far-right moralist anti-TV/anti-pop culture/anti-fun crusader Donald Wildmon, said "Sometimes it's hard to tell whether this is sinister -- it's the purging of Christ from Christmas -- or whether it's just political correctness run amok. I think in the case of the White House, it's just political correctness." Wildmon also said, "It bothers me that the White House card leaves off any reference to Jesus, while we've got Ramadan celebrations in the White House. What's going on there?"

Wildmon and his ilk somehow think Christmas is "under attack," and they're trying to force businesses to use the "C" word. Latest target of his tender ministrations is Target. Meanwhile, William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which aggressively promotes a very conservative/moralistic version of Catholicism, is boycotting Lands End for not saying "Christmas". Even that stupid and not-so-funny comic strip Prickly City today had its little black conservative girl moaning that "they" have "declared war on Christmas." (See Dec 7, although Stantis has been on this riff for a few days now.)

Here's the truth: nobody has declared war on Christmas. Really. It's still a holiday, the only religious holiday the Federal Government observes, by the way. If you say "Merry Christmas" in front of a cop or an FBI agent, they won't arrest you -- hell, they might say "Merry Christmas" back, or even wish you a "Happy New Year."

I'm sorry for those who are offended that for many people the commercial element of what we know as "Christmas" has become so overwhelming (I also am sick of the commercialization, although not for the same reason as Wildmon, Donahue, & company). But freedom of religion in the US of A is still in the Constitution last I checked, and will be alive until people like Wildmon and Donahue succeed in their efforts to force THEIR version of religion down our throats.

Remember, a big part of religion of freedom is the right to be free FROM any one particular religion. If Target doesn't want to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" because it hates Christmas or just doesn't want to put off people who celebrate Christmas or for whatever reason, fine. Similarly, I don't really mind if Best Buy or Sears or that little corner convenience store run by immigrants from Pakistan use "Merry Christmas" in their advertising. I just don't want self-selected theocrats like these guys trying to undermine two of our rights -- freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.

Happy holidays!