Tuesday, December 20, 2005


DH: Coerced religious tokenism is disgusting

Haigler chats Sheehanby Dave Haigler, seen talking with Cindy Sheehan, right
Have you had it up to your neck with this inane "war on Christmas" nonsense from the likes of Bill O'Reilly?  I am so disgusted with it, I could spit.
And I've especially had it with morally-bankrupt politicians like Newt Gingrich who write books and get speaking gigs invoking polls about the large percentage of folks who believe they should be "allowed" to do things like have a prayer in school or say things like "in God we trust," as though some liberal power somewhere had banned such things.
Let's get a few things straight, shall we?  The school-prayer case back in the 1960s did not ban school prayer.  It banned state-mandated prayer, which is a whole n'other thing entirely.  What was at issue was a state-written and mandated prayer the state was requiring the school kids to recite.  Who would want that? 
But we've had 40 years of fundamentalist preaching telling us that the "liberal Supreme Court" banned school prayer, to the point that many school administrators have believed this preaching and feel it's their legal duty to ban prayer.  The Supreme Court has had to uphold the "equal access" law 4 or 5 times at last count to rebut this erroneous thinking.  The fundies shot themselves in the foot, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And nobody is banning anyone saying "Merry Christmas," for God's sake.  But this campaign by the likes of O'Reilly is like saying this should be mandatory, or coerced upon people who might have another preference, like saying "Happy Hanukkah," or "Happy Holidays." 
Things like saying "Merry Christmas, in God we trust, and one nation under God," and a school child saying a prayer should be viewed as religious tokenism.  These things are not the core meaning of the Christian gospel, for God's sake. 
What is that core meaning?  It involves faith, loving people, and accepting and practicing forgiveness.  Not mean-spirited imposition of some token on someone with a different preference. 
And who made O'Reilly the spokesman for all of Christendom, anyway?  I have never heard or read of him practicing any Christian charity whatsoever.  Hundreds of lies, yes; but that is not a sign of Christian virtue, at least in my Bible.
With all that in mind, let's consider what O'Reilly and Gingrich said yesterday about this whole business of the supposed "War on Christmas," as reported by Media Matters for America, my favorite media watchdog outfit:

On the December 19 edition of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly apparently reversed his previous position that the phrase "Happy Holidays" is offensive, stating, " 'Happy Holidays' is fine, just don't ban 'Merry Christmas.'" O'Reilly has previously claimed the term "Happy Holidays" is offensive to "millions of Christians" and "insulting to Christian America."

O'Reilly's comment came during an interview with Fox News analyst and former House speaker Newt Gingrich in which the two discussed the so-called "war" on Christmas. During their discussion the two criticized ABC News national correspondent Sam Donaldson for his December 18 comments on ABC's This Week that O'Reilly was hyping the "war" on Christmas to garner ratings. Gingrich declared Donaldson's remarks to be a "perfect illustration of the mainstream media's elitism," while O'Reilly stated Donaldson's remarks were evidence of "organized left-wing secular bias" in the media.

Full story found here, if you can stand to read the entire disgusting transcript.  Preview:  anybody who disagrees with O'Reilly or Gingrich is a liberal secularist.
I think what angers me the most is the vast numbers of sincere Christians who are getting conned into believing this nonsense about the so-called "War on Christmas."
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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