The Holiday Season, The Constitution and What's REALLY Important
Article ID: 13033
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: December 21st. 2008
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It occurs to me that so many people get themselves tangled up during the holidays. There are all these Christians everywhere- strutting their stuff with their nativity scenes and their crucifixes and their Sunday services and their carols...
The amazing thing to me though is that every year Pagans, Atheists and others still get so irritable by the sight and sound of Christians and their orchestra. I know, I know... Itís always something. In Illinois there's a nativity scene up at the capitol. In Kentucky there's a plaque emphasizing the necessity of God in protecting the state's people. But here's the thing, people- every year (and NOT just at Christmas time) there are symbols and plaques and statues and speeches that promote Christianity being put up all over the United States, and every year there are those same things being taken down.
America is consistent with its internal battle regarding religion and state. Our laws explain it all- you cannot intertwine the two. But lets all open our eyes. The United States isn't so old- and the people running the country are ever evolving. We have one of the fastest evolving and ideally open minded countries on the planet and STILL people complain.
I'm not an atheist but I understand why a plaque that recognizes the need for God in a public building is inappropriate. Not only because it is against the law but also because being placed in a public building, a building representing the people of said state, it insinuates that each and every person who is member of that state agrees. (Just in case you don't know what I'm referring to here's a snippet of fox news's - yes, FOX Newsís article on the subject.)
"American Atheists Inc. sued in state court over a 2002 law that stresses God's role in Kentucky's homeland security alongside the military, police agencies and health departments.
Of particular concern is a 2006 clause requiring the Office of Homeland Security to post a plaque that says the safety and security of the state "cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God" and to stress that fact through training and educational materials.
The plaque, posted at the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, includes the Bible verse: "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
"It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen, " said Edwin F. Kagin, national legal director of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Atheists Inc. The group claims the law violates both the state and U.S. constitutions."
I also understand that a nativity scene on the lawn of a state capitol building causes the same internal struggle with non-Christians. The whole "its not my god but it is my state" idea- you're absolutely right.
If separation of church and state is what these atheists are after then I'm all for it. If grinding out Christianity from their lives is the idea... not to sure I'm on the boat. If you Wikepedia "separation of church and state" here's what you get.
"Separation of church and state is a political and legal doctrine that government and religious institutions are to be kept separate and independent from each other.  The term most often refers to the combination of two principles: secularity of government and freedom of religious exercise. "
Makes sense to me. Makes sense to anyone on this site I'm guessing too.
However people need to really open their minds here. These Christian symbols- they're not put here to insult you. They're not intended to cause drama or arguments or chaos. I know that every intention then has a completely unrelated effect but seriously... think about it. Does it really matter if Christians put up a statue of Jesus Christ on the nationally recognized holiday that celebrates his birth? Are our eyes going to melt from our heads by reading that there's a plaque somewhere that acknowledges a god that we don't?
I agree between separation of church and state completely but I still think people should have common sense and pick their battles.
I live in Communist China. I work and am friends with atheists. My life is surrounded by a nation that not only doesn't believe in god but also doesn't ALLOW people to participate in religious activity. For example- one of the Chinese teachers I work with approached me last year around Easter and said, "What do Americans do on Easter?" Not really understanding how to answer her question I described the Easter bunny and the tradition of small children going on Easter egg hunts and chocolates and so on. She looked at me surprised as if I hadn't given her an answer at all. Upon further discussion with her I realized she was looking for a description of the religious traditions of Americans on Easter.
This conversation (innocent and ignorant as she was) was totally and completely inappropriate according to Chinese standards of every day life. To bring up the idea of attending church or making a sacrifice is unacceptable. If I want to worship the goddess, or a god or Buddha or Jesus Christ or my slippers, I have to do it quietly and out of sight. Is this what non-Christians are looking for? The complete black out of religious anything?
There are no arguments here over state plaques. There are no blog posts regarding the inappropriate symbols of Christianity on government property. I suppose to many that would be a breath of fresh air but personally I'd much rather see an array of many different religious symbols in my home than none at all. (Still considering America my home) There are no opportunities to display any type of religious symbol here- regardless of creed.
I love America and its freedoms and I love all its people and their opinions thanks to those freedoms but what gets me every time is the closed mindedness of Pagan brothers and sisters when it comes to accepting symbols of another faith. Out of all the types of worship out there I'd hope we'd be the ones to really get out of that shell and truly ACCEPT. For so long what many Pagans believed and practiced wasn't accepted. They fought and died and burned for their beliefs and now that there are freedoms to embrace these beliefs there are still some here and there that can't get out of the box.
I personally believe that the holiday season is for everyone. Itís not about Christmas. Itís not about the winter solstice. Itís not about the New Year. Itís about appreciating what you have, what you've had and what you will have. Itís about setting aside all those prejudices that have pulled people apart for centuries and giving thanks in one way or another. The holiday season is a time to share. A time to accept. Not a time to argue about how anyone else should celebrate. Not a time to rage over how anyone else gives thanks. Not a time to forget everything Pagans worked for just to look down our noses at another's faith.
I wish you all a happy holiday season this year... regardless of your method of celebration, and I urge you to take a second to think about whatís REALLY important.
Location: Beijing, China
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