Friday, December 14, 2007

Nobody Gets It

Sigh. This is one of those stories where nobody knows what they're seeing. Except us, and we'll explain it for you.

"Opinionator", a Times blog, cites Amanda Carpenter at Town Hall to this effect:

“Democrats who supported a House resolution to honor Ramadan voted against a similar resolution to honor Christmas and Christianity last night. 18 Democrats voted ‘nay’ or ‘present’ on a resolution to ‘recognize the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.’ An eagle-eyed Republican House staffer points out that those same members, with one exception, voted to ‘recognize the commencement of Ramadan,’ a Muslim religious observance in October.”

Opinionator then goes on to cite several participants in the debate, each playing their assigned role: (1) The Republican sponsor of the resolution says that America was "founded on Christian principles," , adding, "let’s worship Christ and let’s celebrate Christmas for the right reasons." (2) A Democratic opponent responds, "America is not a Christian nation. It is a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone in between. Our diversity is our strength and those who seek to use religion as a litmus test are doing a disservice to all of us." (3) And of course a conservative blogger is quoted as writing, "There IS a war on Christmas, Christians and WASPs in general."

Hoo-boy. Let's unpack this, shall we?

(A) America is, obviously, not a "Christian nation." There have been many nations which were legally "Christian" in the sense that some form of Christianity was the official, established religion. All of Europe prior to the 20th Century, and a few -- like Britain -- today. We aren't one of them

(B) "Founded on Christian principles" is a little murkier. Reasonable people can disagree about this. But we can certainly say that the principles upon which the US was founded are not exclusively Christian: No taxation without representation; freedom of speech, press and worship. Christians may well approve of these principles, and (as is sometimes argued) the Founders may have derived them from their own understanding of Christianity. But of course, there have also been Christians who have historically opposed these things without lurching into theological heresy -- Roman Catholicism prior to the 20th century was at least suspicious of several. "Christian principles," properly so-called, are things like belief in the Resurrection and lordship of Christ, turning the other cheek, and praying without cessation. You can look them up -- they're in the Bible.

(C) "The War on Christmas" is an advertising slogan created by Fox News. (And, may we say, a brilliant one: it combines two things most viewers love. Make it the "Sexy War on Clinton-Bashing Christmas," and you'd have a home run.)

But with all that, said, we have the real underlying issue:

(D) Democrats, and liberals in general, don't have the slightest idea how to talk about Christianity in public. (That's why the Times, while reporting the facts, missed the real story). Traditional 70s-80s era Dems will approve a resolution recognizing Ramadan, but not one recognizing Christmas. Why? Because they have been conditioned over the past generation to avoid Christianity and its images for fear of mixing church and state, while at the same time paying token respect to other religious traditions for the sake of honoring diversity. And they just can't see the contradiction.

Look, guys -- we pay you to make laws, not pass idiotic resolutions regarding private religious observances. But if you're going to do it anyway (and you know you are), then you have an obligation to be even-handed about it. "Diversity" includes the majority. Just as your Muslim constituents appreciate a little support in their annual fast, so too your Christian ones appreciate a smile during their winter feast. This isn't rocket-science. It is good citizenship and, as luck would have it, good politics. Give it a shot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well put, father. may you have a joyous and peaceful christmas.