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Author Topic: Christmas - Separation of Church and State?  (Read 1701 times)
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« on: November 18, 2007, 09:50:52 AM »

With all of the recent banning of religious/Christmas celebrations/displays on Federal property, or even federally funded property, should Christmas continue to be recognized as a federal holiday?
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madupont
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2007, 11:45:22 AM »

Dear Administrator,

Are you aware that in some resoundingly Republican administration supporting states of today's disunion that church property gets various  "rebates" that help them out in exchange for little favors done by the congregation able to afford property expansion to better administer the election Polls in their inimitable style.  They also devote the main hall known as "church" albeit sometimes undenominational to fund-raising in support of party politicians. This topic was previously taken up by Stanley Fish, guest columnist who became a bit of a regular over at the nytimes on-line, earlier in the year, because he gets to be a bit of a smartaz, sometimes serving as a professor, this subject was hugely attended to: Separation of Church and State, with much disagreement among the many posters. None more disagreeable than Stanley himself who  gave his version of the Constitution on this matter.

We have occasionally discussed an aspect of this connection of Religious developments in American History with Political fallout. I particularly found it interesting that the most prolific religious groups expanded the quickest and had the  largest electorate but that should have meant Mitt Romney would be a shoe-in and it does not seem to be happening for him although oodles of Mormons tauted him for the best fund-raiser ever, and I thought I had stumbled into a rehearsal of television's Big Love, when it was only another blog poll at the nytimes.com

Prof.Stanley Fish, of course did his "columnist's forum" about a year or more later than the American History Forum, under the same auspices at
nytimes.,had decided to read the book American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips, Viking Press, for a discussion of the probable significance.

About the only reason that the powers that be would de-federalize Christmas as a holiday would be to pull  some of the usual Scrooginess that has been on display for years now or at least with the second term election determining the Decider making. It is he who decides the handing out or non-handing out of Christmas Turkeys, what senior residents in the VA Hospitals get to eat on Christmas, whether anyone can drop by as a group to sing Christmas Carols as an entertainment to the hospitalized military veterans. If Ebenezer Bush answered the Christmas list of the little children running businesses by party decision making policy, more people would have to work on Christmas churning out business profits for the boss without qualifying for overtime nor getting to have Christmas dinner with their families.  I can state this as a fact, having heard it from the horse's mouth or rather the employees in my neighborhood figuring out how to handle what is in the offing (as in: you are off because you too can be out of work).  Dickens recognized this factor way back when, why does no writer today get it?
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 11:50:05 AM by madupont » Logged
oskylad
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2007, 07:12:03 PM »

Why get rid of Christmas?  It has long since ceased to be a Christian holiday. It has become the Carnival of the Capitalists, lumped together with Channakah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, and New Year's, into the "Holidays", a multicultural bacchanalia of fun and festivity.  Any semblance to the original Christian idea of Advent reflection and recognition of God's gift is merely vestigial.

Curiously, when one is shopping for gifts at Valentine's Day and Hallowe'en the sales clerks still use those Christian-derived names for those holidays.  But not Christmas.  One is greeted with "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings".  It is considered an affront to use the name Christmas.

What music do you hear?  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas.  Frosty the Snowman.

The government will continue to recognize a Christmas holiday.  The only question will be whether it will be called "Christmas".  


   
« Last Edit: November 18, 2007, 07:17:24 PM by oskylad » Logged
madupont
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2007, 01:50:48 PM »

I personally realize that the Christmas obligation is derived from all the other festivals of history that you mentioned, so it does not bug me in the least.  The problem is not deChristianizing it but, Politicizing it  as  a Patriotic Fete for fascist orators only, addressing the fundamentalist mob ala Robespierre in the French Revolution. French citizens are so glad that they have a Secular occasion on which they go to Midnight Mass and come home for L'reveillon, that's the nostalgia part; the educational end is not having schoolgirls arrive with veiled faces.  If  you don't understand that about the separation of church and state, then you must educate yourself more thoroughly before visiting the Kristkindle Markt for instance to decorate your tannenbaum.


At the Thanksgiving dining table:

If the subject turns to the “war on Christmas” that Bill O’Reilly and his cronies claim the ACLU is waging, tell them that the real threat to religious freedom in America is a government that uses taxpayer dollars to promote one religion over another. Religion is the business of families and churches, not government bureaucrats and politicians.
And tell them that though folks like Mr. O’Reilly and his ilk make hay every December by claiming that the ACLU is against Christmas, we work year-round to ensure that everyone in America has the freedom to practice their own religion (or no religion at all) and to keep the government out of religion.

And should you get the one question I find the most exasperating of all -- "What can I do about any of it anyway?" -- I’m sure you’ll know what to do. Tell them to sign up at www.aclu.org/join and get involved!

Then tell them to pass the cranberry sauce and stop hogging the stuffing.


« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 01:52:59 PM by madupont » Logged
oskylad
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2007, 12:11:59 AM »

When did Christmas or any of the other December "holidays" show signs of becoming "a Patriotic Fete for fascist orators"?  Are you talking about Bill O'Reilly?  Doesn't Bill O'Reilly have the same rights to express his opinions, whether they be right or wrong, as any of the rest of us? 

Politicization of Christmas began with those who wanted to get rid of it.  The response of the Bill O'Reillys of this world is a political response.  This is called "democracy".

   
« Last Edit: November 22, 2007, 12:23:55 AM by oskylad » Logged
madupont
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2007, 02:43:15 AM »

No, The ACLU is talking about Bill O'Reilly. Would I know him if I saw him; or just if I heard him?

"Politicization of Christmas began with those who wanted to get rid of it."

Back then, it was called "anti-semitism".   What do you call it today?

By the way,"Politicizing it  as  a Patriotic Fete for fascist orators ... addressing the fundamentalist mob ala Robespierre in the French Revolution.", is exactly when.  You're not up on French Revolutionary history are you?

otherwise logic would tell you--my opening statement: I personally realize that the Christmas obligation is derived from all the other festivals of history--that you mentioned....

You may be a Christian or on the other hand you may be just an anti-multiculturalist which is what you and O'Reilly are calling Democracy,right?
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2007, 11:15:53 PM »

Madupont - I have no idea what O’Reilly would call democracy, nor for that matter much of anything else O’Reilly has to say.  I was defending his right to voice an opinion on the subject of Christmas - not necessarily his argument. 

There are those who would deny his right of to bring religious values and ideas into the public discourse.  Democracy can and must allow all citizens the same standing to argue their case, whether their arguments are religious, nonreligious or antireligious.   

French Revolutionary history is not part of my everyday thought.  However, I would bring to your attention this statement from a special report on religion and politics in the November 3 issue of The Economist:

“A schism in Western liberalism that dates back to its two founding revolutions seems to have reopened.  In France, where the Catholic church was the sole faith, the revolutionnaires detested God as a crucial part of the ancien régime: politics, they declared, henceforth would be protected from this evil.  By contrast, America’s Founding Fathers, used to many competing faiths, took a more benign view.  They divided church from state not least to protect the former from the latter.”

Our constitution prohibits government interference with the free exercise of religion, as well as governmental establishment of religion.  Citizens of the United States have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  The French have banned Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols in state schools.  Hopefully, America will stand by its constitution and continue to afford each of us our religious freedoms - even Islamic schoolgirls.

Freedom of religion is an important part of multiculturalism.  We cannot truly respect other cultures if we deny people the opportunity to express the religious aspects of their cultures.   

I am not unaware of the dangers of demagoguery.  Demagoguery can come from those who claim to be speaking for God - and it can come from those who would deny us freedom of religion.  We are strengthened as a nation if we allow free discourse among practitioners of all our faiths and those who practice none.   

It may be that I misinterpret the meaning behind your post.  But you have casually tossed words like fascist, anti-semitism and anti-multiculturalism into what was intended to be nothing more than a defense of our democratic ideals.  You are free to disagree with my points, but it doesn't advance your cause to try to link me to these political heresies. 


   
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josh
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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2007, 03:13:45 AM »

With all of the recent banning of religious/Christmas celebrations/displays on Federal property, or even federally funded property, should Christmas continue to be recognized as a federal holiday?

Recent?

It's been going on for quite a while, along with the removal of mandatory prayer from schools, the cessation of hanging the 10 suggestions commandments from courthouse walls, and other such things.

Christmas should never have been a recognized federal holiday. Sundays should never have been the mandatory 'Sabbath' for all. And the rules for who can marry whom should never have been based on the Christian religions' rules.

That said, coins and bills are going to continue to say In God We Trust. courts are going have witnesses swear So help me God, and the Pledge of Allegiance will continue to be the bastardized version of the original that it has been for more than 50 years.

What else would I expect in the Year of Our Lord 2007?

This is a country built on the blindness of those in power, with their blithe assertions that a day that honors the birth of (a part of) their deity has lost all religious significance, and so the rest of us should just accept its impositions on our lives. That's okay. There is no such thing as white privilege, either, and everything is on a level playing field for women, now, too. Prejudice has been defeated in all its facets.

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madupont
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2007, 03:15:39 AM »

oskylad,re:#6

I expressly use the term "fascist" when referring to Robespierre who was put in charge of Fetes that were to substitute for the previous religious holy-days of the Roman Catholic Church. This may have been fun for awhile but eventually beyond the renaming of the months of the year,etc. such as adopting a new calendar rather than the liturgical year, the  sense of phoniness set in, the mass became intolerant of Robespierre's dictatorial nature and he was the victim of his own conceptions.  I recall once seeing John Malkovich take the opportunity to play the role of Robespierre and just observing that performance gives you a pretty good idea of what I meant by fascism as a return to some of the pre-Christian customs of the Roman Empire that had once supposedly civilized what became France.

The Economist was wrong however,"In France, where the Catholic church was the sole faith," is an egregious error of a statement. The dispersal of Huguenots abroad to both neighboring countries and the New World in so-called pre-Revolutionary times did not dispense with their reappearance by appearing to be nothing other than non-Roman Catholics; a major difference among the French Protestants from the Roman Catholic establishment was their non-use of "images" in literally "houses" of worship. A veritable underground could exist with the onset of Revolutionary fervor to secularize the social order. The more that the revolutionary committees  rid the upper classes of their privileged religious ornamentation and expensive aesthetic collections, the easier it became for the Protestant to go about his business unadorned as he was.

Likewise the Jew in the Marais of Paris and elsewhere benefitted from The Enlightenment,which brought about The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, one of the fundamental documents of the French Revolution, defining a set of individual rights and collective rights of all of the estates as one. Influenced by the doctrine of natural rights, these rights are universal: they are supposed to be valid in all times and places, pertaining to human nature itself. The last article of the Declaration was adopted on 26 August 1789, by the National Constituent Assembly (Assemblée nationale constituante), as the first step toward writing a constitution.It is, however, considered to be a precursor to international human rights instruments:
"First Article – Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be founded only on the common utility."
The principles set forth in the declaration are of constitutional value in present-day French law and may be used to oppose legislation or other government activities.

The concepts set forth in the declaration come from the philosophical and political principles of the Age of Enlightenment; and include the separation of powers espoused by de Montesquieu.

The declaration prohibits ex post facto application of criminal law and proclaims the presumption of innocence, prohibiting undue duress to the suspect. In pre-revolutionary France, while technically one was considered guilty only after having been sentenced by the appropriate authorities, the royal courts, known as parlements, made ample use of torture to extract confessions, and gave few rights to the defense — ergo, it would have been very likely that one would have been convicted and sentenced, if one had been suspected.

Two other issues resemble the immediate above in their application to today's concerns in the US. Some broad principles of taxation, especially equality before taxation (a striking difference from the pre-revolutionary era, when the Church and the nobility were exempted from most taxes). Today's status in the US in this regard has not entirely unrewarded some churches or some kinds of churches which claim nondenominational status and do not maintain the secular routine separation of Church and State of our laws. Likewise we are exempting the privileged classes from their fare share of the taxes.

Then there is this other matter in which we are now remiss.

Sometime after The March on Versailles on 5 October 1789, the women of France presented the Women's Petition to the National Assembly in which they proposed a decree giving women equality. The Declaration's failure to include women was also objected to by Olympe de Gouges in her 1791 Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen. Women were finally given these rights with the adoption of the 1946 Constitution of the French Fourth Republic.

to be cont'd.
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madupont
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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2007, 03:22:37 AM »

continuation to oskylad,re:#6

Similarly, despite the lack of explicit mention of slavery in the Declaration, the slave revolt on Saint-Domingue that became the Haitian Revolution took inspiration from its words. This latter, has been in particular affronted by the current administration of the US, as I have mentioned many other times was reported by journalist Amy Goodman in reporting the kidnapping of the Haitian president who was briefed on his exile to a central African state by none other than Condileeza Rice in the company of Secretary of State Colin Powell who would be leaving office at the end of the first term of the administration. This interview was held at sometime prior to the planned Bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution against the French in 2002, at which time incarcerated felons from the South American drug trafficking were released  for good conduct  from Federal prisons,  by the Bush administration whose intent it was that they aggressively attack Haitians and cause riots that would then require martial law and the abandonning of the Bicentennial celebration.



The Enlightenment is said to end around the year 1800 and the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars (1804–15).

With the end of the Second World War and the rise of post-modernity, these same features came to be regarded as liabilities and prompted a backlash against both Science and Enlightenment based dogma in general.

You go on to another paragraph to say,"Citizens of the United States have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."    Yes, and they should also have freedom from religion rather than demonstrate any particular religious affiliation, lest you contradict your second paragraph: "Democracy can and must allow all citizens the same standing to argue their case, whether their arguments are religious, nonreligious or antireligious." to the annoyance of poor Bill O'Reilly. 

In post #4 you take the position,"Politicization of Christmas began with those who wanted to get rid of it."

I try to reason that out in terms of what you have said about O'Reilly's practice of democracy because you follow the above sentence with: "The response of the Bill O'Reillys of this world is a political response."; whereas  I posted the typical ACLU mailing at this time of year which points out that currently Mr. O'Reilly is, as you quaintly put it,having a "political response" about the Christening of Christmas.

This has usually occurred, before Mr. O'Reilly was even invented to so over emphasize How Christian the Nation..."Under God", that non-Christians stuck out like sore thumbs for not participating in the rituals. They overcame this decently enough about the period of time following Rod Steiger's stunning performance in the movie,The Pawnbroker. Many young people in the late Sixties suddenly found out they were actually Jewish,because of a position adopted by their senior family members as a result of the War in Europe that erupted five years after the confirmation of Adolf Hitler as Reichschancellor.

Consequently following the great Family Revelations post-The Pawnbroker, many younger people who had gone to school together throughout their lives (and since being born when the European war was over) hastily formed a new tradition of keeping the holidays together, one and all, by including all the traditions of both Christian and Jewish faiths.

Today the situation is quite different and you say in your fifth paragraph,"The French have banned Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols in state schools.  Hopefully, America will stand by its constitution and continue to afford each of us our religious freedoms - even Islamic schoolgirls."  Wishful thinking in so far that it was America who started the hassle about where and when you can not wear the veil, when having your photograph taken for a driver's license  (and I must say one of the things I most enjoyed about the old nytimes.com forums was the Brit spinners from the UK and Canada and nebulously noncomittal about Australian origins or former colonialist status in Africa. Every single one of these guys wanted to save Muslim women primarily by giving them the right to drive a car ! )

Only secondarily should you consider the next inappropriate place quickly leapt to mind, you simply can't wear a veil while passing through the line at the air-port for permission to board because your carry-on is see-through; so, off with your shoes. But I heard those are back on again.

The other religious symbols that the French have banned of course are crosses worn on decorative chains, the mogen David, small mezuzahs,yarmuka; or fica, and any other ostensibly more Muslim gear perhaps just peculiarly North African.

This is however an equal across the boards condition for attending secular (public) schools. Whereas you and I know that in America the beautiful,"even Islamic schoolgirls", will not be attending our public schools unless they dress "down", although they will be free to go to a girl's school for Muslim girls wearing what ever they like to wear to school according to the dress code of their school.  When they put aside all that, they go where ever they want to.

So, I am not calling you anti-semitic. What I have indicated is that Americans returned to the slippery slope when they allowed rampant accusations to be promulgated following a tragedy ,which included the immediate imprisonment of large numbers of not Jewish men but Muslim or putatively Muslim men without due process of law because they might be "Islamic" terrorists.  Sometimes the choice of words gives it away when the choice is three little words: " even Islamic schoolgirls".

I did ask in post #5, if anti-multiculturalism was what you meant by democracy, even as Bill O'Reilly  seemed to have declared uniculturalism a more Christian democracy or perhaps that was vice-versa with more Christian uniculturalism the equivalent of democracy, I don't know; but you said, on the contrary, your idea of democracy is multicultural.

Now, do we have that settled as the context of my words? Although you start your post by saying,"I was defending his right to voice an opinion on the subject of Christmas", referring to Bill O'Reilly, apparently against the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), you end your post by saying,"You are free to disagree with my points, but it doesn't advance your cause to try to link me to these political heresies."  Interesting last word that: "heresies". But frankly I am not advancing a cause although you mention it by negating whatever the cause might be. Just think of it as my "be" cause.


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bartolomeo
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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2007, 12:54:51 PM »

Isn't there something a trifle dull about this whole topic?  As Osky points out, the near-solstice consumerist orgy has long ago shed any real connection (except calendrical) to the mass of Christ.  The one thing I find worth celebrating is that the days after Dec. 21 or 22 start getting longer.  So paint me blue and call me a druid!

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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2007, 02:23:00 PM »

Actually, it's a big topic right around here, in fact on the town green in front of my office.  There's an annual to-do where a church or individual applies for and gets the permit to put a creche on the green.  Then the local atheist "group" -- often it's just this one guy, the same one every year -- writes letters to the paper, applies for his own permit, demonstrates, contacts the local news stations, etc. and we go 'round with the church/state argument and never seem to resolve anything. 

Down in the gold coast of Fairfield, the town says that a creche must be attended 24/7, so this little old man, about 100 years old, schleps out there for three days or so right before Christmas and also always makes the news. And then follows the comments about the heartless town, making this old man shiver in all kinds of weather, etc.  Though the last couple of years he's probably enjoyed the global warming thing a little, we've had some pretty mild winters lately.
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2007, 02:39:07 PM »

Ganulin v. United States (1999) declared that "the establishment of Christmas Day as a legal public holiday does not violate the Establishment Clause because it has a valid secular purpose." This decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 19, 2000.

Devout Christians object to the vulgarization and cooption of one of their sacred observances by secular commercial society.

But blame non-Christians or secularists for that commercialization? I don't think so.

Methinks big business/government got what it asked for...



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madupont
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« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2007, 07:29:38 PM »


Isn't there something a trifle dull about this whole topic?  As Osky points out, the near-solstice consumerist orgy has long ago shed any real connection (except calendrical) to the mass of Christ.  The one thing I find worth celebrating is that the days after Dec. 21 or 22 start getting longer.  So paint me blue and call me a druid!



So paint me blue and call me a druid!


I'm hip.
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madupont
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« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2007, 07:35:28 PM »

srnich,re:#12

"Methinks big business/government got what it asked for..."

Currently, Republican, that works for them.  If they pay the taxes on the take, I cold approve.

I'm more interested in the Constitutional requirements being met  for the Separation of Church and State; since where it isn't, I lose my civil rights to vote.
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