Tipping The Sacred Cow: Merry Christmas, dammit!

I wrote this three years ago but it’s my take on the whole Happy Holidays vs [Insert Religious-type Greeting Here] debate.  I’m feeling ranty but I’ve got work to get back to once lunch is over so y’all get a repost … which was, in fact, a repost.

(photo swiped from Baby Hatchetface)

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The following is taken from another discussion group.  I was playing nice and everything, really I was, but then … well, some people wanted to know what I thought and I finally gushed.  I regurgitated my thoughts in one sitting.  And, well, we all like a good religious brouhaha right in the middle of the, um, Festivus.  Right?  Plus, I like using big words.  They make me look smart and sexy.  (I’m sorry, what? Look my mommy told me so!)  The topic largely started with Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas and devolved into the expected issues of tradition vs progress.  My comment was a bit out of sequence to what was being discussed at that exact moment but — well, you’ll figure it out.

And this is my holiday message for the year.  I tried to find a Hallmark card that said the same but…

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OD: Now.. that said, if a company truly did issue a memo stating that Christmas, and any reference to it was forbidden, but that the other religious holidays (such as Chanukah) were acceptable… I’d be willing to be that someone would have a valid case of religious discrimination on their hands. It would have to be an all or nothing policy to be legal.

D: [How about] Hanukkah supply shop?

OD: Ok, good point. A store that specifically caters to a religion could (or at least should be able to) do so because it’s part of the business. Like a Christian book store could say “no yarmulkes”. However, if a Chanukah supply store banned Christian references, with the claim that they are doing Jewish specific business, but then didn’t ban Islamic or Hindi references, there’d probably be an issue.

[ANGELO gets on his soapbox]: Nope. Invalid point (depending on local laws, but most of NA). While it is a reasonable expectation it is not a requirement of employment to be Jewish. In fact, it’s a sticky thing entirely. What if I was married to a Jewish woman and was infinitely qualified to work there (based on job knowledge)? Perhaps I was Jewish and converted 10 years into my employment? Yes, these are all far-fetched ideas but, ultimately, there is no law in a commercial enterprise that says you can use religion to discriminate against an employee.

This includes an employee in a Hannukah supply store who wants to wish someone else Merry Christmas. By issuing a memo saying employees are NOT ALLOWED to wish anyone Merry Christmas, you are RESTRICTING their religious freedom. In Ontario, at least, companies will issue a litany of memos urging caution, tolerance, and informed decision-making when it comes to wishing people well for the holidays (and they will invariably call their end of year party a Holiday Party or something nondenominational) but they can get in serious trouble by issuing anything (company policy or otherwise) which forbids the use of any benign religious expression.

And there’s the rub in this province. People get all bent out of shape when they feel their Christianity is under assault and their beliefs are being restricted. Ooo, the government is bad and our companies are just shills. The truth is, the Christians are being asked to be mindful of [their beliefs] and are being forced to do nothing, and by no one. They are being pressured socially by the prevailing winds of tolerant change and social acceptance. Technically, they can put up a giant “Merry Christmas EVERYONE” sign on their lawn and no legal recourse would be available to anyone who objected to it. And, the amusing thing about it is (in my opinion) the complaint of these Christians defending Christmas (absent logic) is most un-Christian. Last time I checked, the commandment read: Love Thy Neighbor. It doesn’t read: Love Thy Neighbor (Unless They Are Not Christian).

In short, we’re going through a period of adjustment in North American cities. And other places around the world. We’re adjusting to a world where religious expression is becoming something we allow everyone to openly exhibit without threat of war or stigma. But the change isn’t coming easy. We have to learn to live in this new world where all cultures and beliefs (so long as they are benign) are celebrated, recognized and accepted. And, if you want to hold on to those childhood homogeny of ideals and practices, you’re going to have to move farther and farther into the corn and wheat belt rural towns to keep it.

In the end, we can do two things with religion [well, three, but the third one’s not feasible in this century–if at all]:

1. Stake your claim and do not bow to the changing times. Defend your religion and all its current footholds to the bitter end. Your God is the only God and therefore you should not have to entertain the delusional sacrilege of the heathen invaders. God has chosen you to stem the tide of godlessness and you shall give your life to the cause.

or, 2. Learn to accept the intermingling of faiths, be tolerant of others and encourage tolerance in others. Discuss your faiths, promote yours if you want, but also listen to the others. What do you have to fear? If you are such a strong believer, then you’re not going to get converted by attending the ceremony of some other religion.

Are those two extremes? Yes. However, it is my belief that — though we are all a mix of the two — your actions are ultimately working for one of those two extremes. You are either stubborn in your beliefs or you are flexible and accommodating. This may change from belief to belief but–should you choose not to bend — you are inflexible, intractable and (I’m sorry to say) intolerant. If you display an outward tolerance (“Oh, it’s okay, I don’t mind”) and yet inwardly resent the change (because you DO mind!), then you’re still intolerant. You’re just a hypocrite, too.

However, you can’t just go around telling people that they’re intolerant, or inflexible (or, even worse, a hypocrite) and expect that to sway them towards more accepting notions. That’s just satisfying your own ego to say, “I’m better than you because I’m more tolerant of others”. So, how do you engender more tolerance without a soapbox or a bullhorn? You don’t, really. I think you just lead by example. Do what you can, open your own mind, and hope that others may follow. Forcing people to be more tolerant is … well, being a bigger hypocrite than the inwardly resentful old-schooler. Why is all this so darn hard for us to work out, one may ask? Despite all the scholarly dissertations by expert sociologists (and amateur nubs like me), there is one overriding factor in the brave new world of religious tolerance:

We’ve never done it before.

In the history of our species, we have never, on such a large scale, attempted to take what was once a matter of war and conflict — religious belief — and tried to make this many people play nice with each other. We, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Scientologists, the Invisible Pink Unicorn Acolytes, have never tried to mix on such a tremendous scale. So, there are no hard and fast rules on how to do it properly — even during a time like this, when the notions are about giving, loving and peace. We’re just going to have to feel our way through this time and hope for the best. We’re going to…

…we’re going to have to have a little faith.


About Angelo Barovier

I was born. I'll be around for a while. Then I won't.


6 thoughts on “Tipping The Sacred Cow: Merry Christmas, dammit!

  1. Okay, just a little rant of my own…we cannot have a Christmas or Holiday party, we have a bowling party. (or Casino party or whatever party it is that year.) However, the person or persons who are the reason for no Holiday party will gladly accept what is called a Christmas Bonus. That I do not understand…

    Posted by Karma Heckard | December 1, 2011, 4:03 pm
  2. Can an agnostic say “Amen” to that?

    Posted by Erin DeLaney | December 2, 2011, 10:18 am
  3. Money…the root of all evil…

    Posted by Karma Heckard | December 2, 2011, 11:16 am
  4. Pffffft! Not one mention of the Flying Spaghetti Cat. Not sure I can support this message now.

    Posted by Adam Bernstein | December 3, 2011, 1:38 pm

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