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Tension Over Christmas Observance Begins

Religion Christmas Season Observances Conflict

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#1 Nonprofit

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 10:12 PM

Tension Over Christmas Observance Begins

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It's weeks before Thanksgiving but already interest groups are preparing for an intense year of conflict over Christmas observances by cities and public schools, with one conservative group lining up hundreds of attorneys to work on the issue.

Communities and courts have long fielded protests against municipal creche displays and school Nativity pageants, based on strict views of church-state separation and sensitivity toward religious minorities.

In recent years, however, local disputes have extended to carol singing, wordless instrumental music, Christmas trees and decorations, classroom visits by Santa Claus, distribution of Christmas-themed cards and gifts, "Merry Christmas!" greetings and designation of Christmas on official calendars.

This week, the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., announced that its 800 cooperating attorneys have volunteered to handle without fee complaints about "improper attempts to censor the celebration of Christmas in schools and on public property."

In 2004, the second year of its "Christmas Project," affiliated attorneys sent a detailed memo on ADF's view of Christmas and constitutional law to 7,000 school districts. The 2005 effort, already under way, adds city officials.

<snip>

Even as Christmas is suppressed, these writers complain, schools sometimes encourage Ramadan, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa observances.

<snip>

What are your thoughts on how the Christmas observances by cities and public schools should be handled?

RuReddy

#2 Captain Jack

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 10:51 PM

Leave Christmas alone and don't be a Grinch to those who want to ruin it for the rest of us.  There are bigger issues in this world than "stealing Christmas" that people should focus on.

Being an instructor, kids of all ages and races like it.  Same goes for Halloween.  They enjoy it a great deal.  This is just another scenario where bitter adults want to take more fun away from children.  Let kids be kids.  And if some don't observe the holiday, that's fine.  Leave the ones that do alone.

There are many holidays I don't celebate such as Cinco de Mayo, and any Jewish holiday.  I'm not Jewish.  But I don't go running around trying to ban those who are from celebrating their holidays.  

Society is just getting rediculously over sensitive.  It's stupid.  I wonder why it's so hard for others to just live and let live.  :rolleyes:
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#3 Berry

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 10:57 PM

Because it isn't just "live and let live". My Jewish children are forced to sit in their public school drawing  pictures of Santa (who isn't coming to THEM no matter how good they are) and learning Christmas songs in their choir (my shy daughter with a beautiful voice quit the only activity she wanted to participate in because the words of the religious songs the Southern Baptist choir master taught them made her uncomfortable. I am not trying to inhibit your celebrating your holiday or religion. Just do it in your own churches or homes and stop forcing it down the throats of people who are not of your faith and keep public schools a place of education not proselytizing.

Edited by Berry, 07 November 2005 - 10:58 PM.

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#4 Norville

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 11:02 PM

I'll comment that, in my workplace, Christmas decorations are now disallowed. They apparently offend the Jewish owner of the property... or something like that. I find it annoying, although not as annoying as one of my coworkers does; she's been grumbling about "taking the Christ out of Christmas". Well, then, celebrate Vague Winter Holiday or Merry Midwinter Marketing Festival (since this season is what keeps a lot of businesses afloat, thanks to buying frenzy, which we *all* know is the True American Way). ;)

I notice that there's now a book out about the "war on Christmas", blaming it all on liberals, evil liberals. Okay, then, why are there strict Christian sects who won't celebrate Christmas, due to its origins as a pagan holiday? Are Jews and Muslims, etc. who don't want to celebrate Christmas some sort of "liberals"? Are those inconvenient questions? Just curious.
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#5 Berry

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 11:16 PM

I'll tell you some good,clean fun I had once. In a public school that had no problem allowing a yearly full scale Christmas Extravaganza complete with Nativity pageant etc. I suggested to my child's teacher that it might be nice,in the interest of multi-culturism, for me to come into class and tell them a little about Hannukah. She was happy to oblige me. So,in I went with my chocolate coins wrapped in gold paper,my dreidles (spinning tops), my potato latkes and a brief history lesson in why Jews celebrate Hannukah. Apparently the part that stuck with most of the kids was that we had 8 days of celebration (read:gifts). The teacher let me know that she had received quite a few calls from parents (sarcastically) thanking her because their children came home and announced they would rather celebrate Hannukah. :D


Laughed my ass off....talk about now they know how I feel.  :p

Edited by Berry, 07 November 2005 - 11:19 PM.

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#6 Cheile

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 11:45 PM

there is no reason why Christmas decorations of ANY kind (secular or religious) should be banned just because of sour Scrooges who either a) don't believe at al or b) think it offends their non-Christmas including beliefs.

Berry....the same snarky argument you use could be put back at you.  if Christmas decorations are so offensive to you, then STAY HOME where you don't have to look at them. :sarcasm:  it's ridiculous to think the public has to bend to the wills of the Christmas haters or people of religions who can't or won't (depending on the religion) celebrate any form of it.

people need to stop blaming all Christians for the actions of right wing fundie freaks like those in the original article who want to ruin everyone else's holiday spirit.  and don't blame all schools for "proselytizing".  having children color or draw pictures of SANTA is not trying to shove religion down anyone's throat.  every school i went to acknowledged Hannukah and, later on as they became more popular, holidays like Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.

as far as i'm concerned, it's fine the way it is.  the right wing fundies need to shut up and the Scrooges need to lighten up or go hibernate until spring. :rolleyes:

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#7 Enkanowen

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 11:48 PM

religious holidays should stay at home. No matter what holiday it is.

#8 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 11:56 PM

A Karas, on Nov 7 2005, 10:51 PM, said:

Leave Christmas alone and don't be a Grinch to those who want to ruin it for the rest of us.  There are bigger issues in this world than "stealing Christmas" that people should focus on.

Being an instructor, kids of all ages and races like it.  Same goes for Halloween.  They enjoy it a great deal.  This is just another scenario where bitter adults want to take more fun away from children.  Let kids be kids.  And if some don't observe the holiday, that's fine.  Leave the ones that do alone.

There are many holidays I don't celebate such as Cinco de Mayo, and any Jewish holiday.  I'm not Jewish.  But I don't go running around trying to ban those who are from celebrating their holidays. 

Society is just getting rediculously over sensitive.  It's stupid.  I wonder why it's so hard for others to just live and let live.  :rolleyes:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


OK. It's official. Hell hath indeed frozen over. I agree with what A Karas said.
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#9 Berry

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 12:11 AM

Yeah,there's that old "Christmas spirit" coming right at me.  :p
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#10 Shoshana

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 12:22 AM

Cheile, on Nov 7 2005, 11:45 PM, said:

there is no reason why Christmas decorations of ANY kind (secular or religious) should be banned just because of sour Scrooges who either a) don't believe at al or b) think it offends their non-Christmas including beliefs.

Berry....the same snarky argument you use could be put back at you.  if Christmas decorations are so offensive to you, then STAY HOME where you don't have to look at them. :sarcasm:  it's ridiculous to think the public has to bend to the wills of the Christmas haters or people of religions who can't or won't (depending on the religion) celebrate any form of it.

people need to stop blaming all Christians for the actions of right wing fundie freaks like those in the original article who want to ruin everyone else's holiday spirit.  and don't blame all schools for "proselytizing".  having children color or draw pictures of SANTA is not trying to shove religion down anyone's throat.  every school i went to acknowledged Hannukah and, later on as they became more popular, holidays like Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.

as far as i'm concerned, it's fine the way it is.  the right wing fundies need to shut up and the Scrooges need to lighten up or go hibernate until spring. :rolleyes:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



This is pro'bly one of the rudest things I've ever read at EI.

I'd write more, but i'd pro'bly get my first ever warning.

'shana

#11 Captain Jack

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 12:26 AM

LORD of the SWORD, on Nov 8 2005, 04:56 AM, said:

A Karas, on Nov 7 2005, 10:51 PM, said:

Leave Christmas alone and don't be a Grinch to those who want to ruin it for the rest of us. There are bigger issues in this world than "stealing Christmas" that people should focus on.

Being an instructor, kids of all ages and races like it. Same goes for Halloween. They enjoy it a great deal. This is just another scenario where bitter adults want to take more fun away from children. Let kids be kids. And if some don't observe the holiday, that's fine. Leave the ones that do alone.

There are many holidays I don't celebate such as Cinco de Mayo, and any Jewish holiday. I'm not Jewish. But I don't go running around trying to ban those who are from celebrating their holidays.

Society is just getting rediculously over sensitive. It's stupid. I wonder why it's so hard for others to just live and let live. :rolleyes:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


OK. It's official. Hell hath indeed frozen over. I agree with what A Karas said.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hehe, thanks LotS.  :)

Despite Christmas being a marketing thing these days, it's also something that has a lot of meaning, even in a non-religious way.  It's the spirit of giving and being good to your fellow man.

If we do away with Christmas, then do away with ALL the holidays.  Every one.

I respect Jewish holidays, Chinese New Year, Kwanza, and so forth.  Those holidays are celebrated without contempt from others.  Christianity has been getting a whole lot of hits below the belt over the years.  The most interesting part of Christmas is that you don't have to be Christian to enjoy it.  In my old job, there were mostly Muslim's who worked under me.  They enjoyed putting up a tree, and decorating the branch.  In fact, there was one year the company did not buy a tree, and and it was the non-Christian's who went out and bought one, along with new decorations for our branch.  They see it as a good thing, a time for joy, and a reminder to be good to one another.  And, you know, I like that too.

It isn't about the gifts, the shopping, or the "Dear Santa" letters.  It's much more than that.  To see it as anything otherwise, or bad is being short-sighted on what else it means besides the birth of Christ.  Besides, no one really knows when he was born anyway.

I have always been accomadating with people having to take time off for their religious holidays or whatnot.  It works both ways.

#12 Shoshana

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 12:33 AM

^ Actually ... for me it has no meaning. It's just another day - one that has stores loading up on stuff to try to sell people starting in August. It's the celebrated birthday of someone who means nothing to me.

I don't want to do away with Christmas. If you want to celebrate - go ahead. Just don't force it on everyone else.

Edited by Shoshana, 08 November 2005 - 12:35 AM.


#13 Captain Jack

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 12:35 AM

Shoshana, on Nov 8 2005, 05:33 AM, said:

^ Actually ... for me it has no meaning. It's just another day - one that has stores loading up on stuff to try to sell people starting in August. It's the celebrated birthday of someone who means nothing to me.

'shana

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


And I totally respect that too.

#14 scherzo

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 02:48 AM

Quote

I notice that there's now a book out about the "war on Christmas", blaming it all on liberals, evil liberals.
If you're looking for some unscientific evidence, a quick examination of those Two Towers of online belly-aching Free Republic and the Democrat Underground, will reveal starkly contrasting views on the big holiday.(and pretty much everything else) Most liberals haven't totally sacrificed their sense of fun on the altar of PC, but quite a few seem to think their cynicism requires more attention.

Quote

Actually ... for me it has no meaning. It's just another day - one that has stores loading up on stuff to try to sell people starting in August. It's the celebrated birthday of someone who means nothing to me.

I don't want to do away with Christmas. If you want to celebrate - go ahead. Just don't force it on everyone else.
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#15 Cheile

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 03:04 AM

Shoshana, on Nov 7 2005, 10:22 PM, said:

This is pro'bly one of the rudest things I've ever read at EI.

I'd write more, but i'd pro'bly get my first ever warning.

'shana

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


guess you missed the :sarcasm: guy huh?

and excuse me for stating my opinion.  A Karas made a good point in saying that there are far more important things to worry about than "stealing Christmas".

and no one is forcing Christmas on anyone.  so the public decorates....ooh what a hardship that you have to look at it.  :sarcasm:  are you made to buy Christmas presents for family and friends?  are you made to decorate a tree/your house?  are you made to say 'Merry Christmas'?  i HIGHLY doubt it.

[edited for spelling error]

Edited by Cheile, 08 November 2005 - 03:06 AM.

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#16 offworlder

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 03:13 AM

wow, I have to take notes on this thread what with the various points being made ... first: I do get the Cheile notes and don't think that was really rude, just emotional ranting, and nothing personal against any particular person, just a reaction, and I get it, and even agree with at least 65 pct of it ... ;)

and I do totally get the Berry remarks, with the girl having to quit the thing she loves because she doesn't agree or like the way it's being done, and the insensitivity of the adult leaders who should know better in today's era! for shame!

Now I'll make a point: there is much more multi-cultural in our public orgs and schools than Ever before, including religion items, so we need to be more sensitive about that. Now let me make another point.

When I was in school we either had no, or they didn't mention and make any issue of it, Islamic or Buddhist or Caribo-African or even Greek/Eastern/Russian Orthodox kids around: it is more recently that big numbers of those families came to USA, and in my day the few coming over were not in places where I went to school, these kids just were not there, it was no issue of them. But ... we did have a few Jewish kids and I never really asked them, well maybe one, what they thought of all the Christmas stuff being mentioned. He, and the others too, just accepted it around, didn't really have an issue with it, then went home and did their own thing with the family. It wasn't until uni, where I lived with several Jewish kids on the dorm floor, and my very own Jewish roommate one year who'd come back from weekend and share with me his gran's homemade bagels with homemade cream cheese and locks (sp? I ain't Jewish)(loks?) : when I learned much more about the Jewish ways and the Saturday evening dinner with fam and remembrance and recitings and traditions and all that. I think before uni I had met maybe three Jewish kids in my whole life, and no Islamic or Buddhist or Orthodox .... I Never heard the phrase multi-cultural til university.

Choirs: I guess there just ain't choirs around schools that can resist touching upon, or whole-hog into it, Christmas hymns and songs around December. So that's a tough one: but they do need to make it voluntary, and actively tell the kids, "those of you who don't agree and don't want to sing the next day's songs with us, you can sit these out and not come for that one day " &etc. Like, "nothing forcing here." In other words, a bit more sensitivity than in my day, but cut it out all together? drastic.

And it depends too on where and who. In many areas where the Christmas crowd or barely half the total, just cut it out; but in areas where they are 96pct of the total, well, sensitivity and voluntary but then let them have their December. :) I would hate to see some centralized fed law issue in some far away urban place like D.C. decide what the crowd in a state like Arkansas or maybe Oklahoma want to do about December holidays in the main square in front of the city hall, or in the local high school, in a place where 99pct of all Want to do their Christmas like they've always done it. I'm not big on the idea of the faraway fed city telling the locals who may be somewhat different than them how to do things or what they can and can't do: in many ways and about many issues I'm a states' rights kinda guy. ;)

PS- I think having Christmas doings like presentations or craft-making or such in k-12 schools was always an innocent and nice thing and I really see no huge reason to change that; just give the kids alternative source or subject matter if they don't want to do xmas stuff.

PS2- besides schools: I like the way they have the National Christmas Tree lighting at the elipse by the White House and the prez lights it up with first ma'am. And I think states should be able to do that with the gov mansion if they want to. But all in all, otherwise, I think Christmas doesn't have to be a showy thing around public/gov places. But a town should be allowed to have 'the town Christmas tree' if they want one. Just as a town largely Jewish should be able to have their observance things, candles, remembrance, if they want that in the town square.

PS3- I never heard that Christmas, about the mass for Christ, had origins as a pagan holiday: just because some winter solstice festival comes nearby doesn't make Christ's Mass have pagan origins or anticedents.
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#17 Shoshana

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 03:31 AM

Well... in school we *had* to sing Christmas carols, attend Christmas parties, be in the Christmas play.  I've had jobs where all employees were told that decorating the trees was part of the job - and yes, it was done after hours.

scherzo ... 's ok ... There's always Channukah ... :D

I'm not anti-Christmas - not at all. I just don't think that there should be Christmas displays set up in government buildings and public schools. I don't think there should be displays for Channukah or other holidays either - I think it's a matter of separation of Church and State. Now if it's a school that has a course about religions (like a whole bunch of religions) and they investigate different holidays, that's kinda different.

And no, no one "makes" me buy Christmas presents ... and I don't get bent out of shape when people wish me Merry Christmas.




The part of Cheile's reply that got me was

Quote

there is no reason why Christmas decorations of ANY kind (secular or religious) should be banned just because of sour Scrooges who either a) don't believe at al or b) think it offends their non-Christmas including beliefs.

Berry....the same snarky argument you use could be put back at you. if Christmas decorations are so offensive to you, then STAY HOME where you don't have to look at them. sarcasm.gif it's ridiculous to think the public has to bend to the wills of the Christmas haters or people of religions who can't or won't (depending on the religion) celebrate any form of it.

People might say that Christmas isn't a "religious holiday" ... but it truly is - as much as Easter ...  the term "secular Christmas decorations" is kinda weird. And I don't appreciate being lumped into a group of sour Scrooges because I don't celebrate Christmas.

And telling people to stay home if the decoations bother them is kinda harsh - that could be turned around - why don't people who celebrate Christmas keep their decorations and music and other stuff at home and at church? Why spread the decorations everywhere humanly possible? And you know ... we're part of the "public" too. And it's not that I hate Christmas - or that I can't or won't celebrate any form of it because of my religion. It's just not part of my religion.

And yes, I saw the  sarcasm.gif.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. That's cool. But (please forgive me if y'all know this already - but I have run into quite a few people who don't) Jewish people don't beleve Jesus was the Messiah. Or that Jesus was anybody more special than any other person who may have been alive at the time.

'shana

Edited by Shoshana, 08 November 2005 - 03:33 AM.


#18 Raina

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 04:52 AM

offworlder, on Nov 8 2005, 12:13 AM, said:

PS3- I never heard that Christmas, about the mass for Christ, had origins as a pagan holiday: just because some winter solstice festival comes nearby doesn't make Christ's Mass have pagan origins or anticedents.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually, there's evidence that Jesus was actually born sometime in April.

What happened was that when the Christians tried to convert the Pagans, one way they did that was to take traditionally Pagan holidays and Christianize them, to make it less of a drastic change.

Hence why the Pagan rebirth celebration became the Christian birth celebration.


And as for my views on the whole Christmas thing:
It may have started out as a Christian holiday, but I think that now it's evolved into a holiday with different meanings, depending on your religious beliefs (or lack of). For Christians, it's celebrating the birth of Christ, but for many people (myself included) it's just a secular holiday and excuse to get a tree, get presents, etc. And then you have Pagans who know it as the Winter Solstice. Saying "Merry Christmas" nowadays isn't declaring your devotion to Christ, rather, it's just a seasonal greeting that's associated with the date of Dec 25, which isn't the birthdate of Christ anyways.

With that in mind, I don't see any problem in people openly celebrating Christmas, provided that people are allowed to openly celebrate any other religious holiday as well. Let the Christians have their celebrations, and let the non-Christians have an excuse to party.

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#19 Mandi

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 05:43 AM

I celebrate my holiday, you celebrate yours. Leave me alone, I leave you alone. If you want to put up a star of david on your desk for Hannukah no problem. But don't get pissed off at me if I want to put up a cross or a picture of santa. Why tip toe around others for fear of offending them. When some of those others don't tip toe around me. This is America, I can believe and celebrate any way I wish, so can you. Oh, and if you don't like your kids doing the whole christmas thing in school, go to the teacher, tell them your beliefs and they will be excluded.....simple
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#20 jack

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 05:55 AM

Since TK is down, and Randy pulled me to this thread (randy is Luca I believe) here's my two cents...

In Vermont, we celebrate everything in public school or nothing. Living in an affluent community like Stowe gives us that luxury I guess, or we pay better attention, something. The chorus sings a Christmas Carol, a Kwanzaa offering, a Hebrew song, an American popular song of some sort, an african song, etc etc. The school has an xmas tree, and whatever winter solstice celebration other cultures embrace at the same time. Xmas is about the Solstice, after all.

Show me where Santa Claus is representative of anything Jesus Christlike, ok?

If we started forcing people to look at bleeding crucifixes and rock pushing as part of the holiday (say like easter, which also has it's little crinolines and fuzzy bunny thing going for it), then I think these folks might have a point.

But, trees? fat men in red fuzzy suits flying around with reindeer?

It's kids stuff, man.
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