CNN.com iReports has a story this week about how atheists celebrate Christmas. Excuse me? They don't. This got me thinking again about the secularization of Christmas. Whether I am preaching to the choir or merely shouting at the rain, I just need to get this off my chest. In reality, I'm responding to the CNN article in here because I'm pretty sure they would never print this.
1: Holidays have religious origins. Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Period.
2: If you celebrate the fact that Jesus was born, even if you don't accept His divinity but merely see Him as a prophet or a just a good man with a good heart and good messages worthy of being revered...then, in my opinion, you understand the true meaning of the holiday in some way. If someone you know and love celebrates Christmas and includes you and you respect their beliefs, you also "celebrate Christmas."
3: If Jesus has no part whatsoever in your celebrations...then you aren't "celebrating Christmas." Even if you are doing good deeds, decorating, exchanging presents, getting together with friends and family, singing carols, sending cards, etc. it's not "Christmas." You are certainly celebrating something, and that's fine, don't stop, but you can't REALLY call it Christmas.
4: If item 3 describes you, you aren't a bad person or a hypocrite...you just have different beliefs. That's fine. So say you celebrate the Winter Solstice, Yule, or even Festivus. But Christmas isn't just "something to do" because everyone else seems to. It means something to people. Please respect that.
5: Many of the trappings of Christmas (tree, Santa, Yule log, presents, etc.) were absorbed from local religions supplanted by Christianity over the last two millennia (Yule, Solstice, Saturnalia, etc.). Christians know this. We've been using them for a long time...but we don't own them and they aren't what the holiday is about anyway.
6: Christ may not have been a Capricorn...possibly a Taurus or Gemini. Christians know this too. There are many theories about why Dec 25th was chosen but it's been that way since 386AD. There's no way, short of someone going back with a time machine to check, that it's going to change dates now. Get past it.
7: Freedom of religion does not mean freedom FROM religion. There is nothing about using public lands used for Nativity scenes, a White House Christmas Tree, Merry Christmas in congressional letters, "under God," etc. that violates the establishment clause of the 1st amendment. Nothing!
8: The 1st amendment specifically and ONLY imposed limitations on Congress. Not the president, Supreme Court, states, towns, etc. However, congress and the federal government are allowed to acknowledge religion and recognize its importance to people. It just can't push one over another.
9: Following on #8...Christmas as a national holiday MAY violate the establishment clause...too bad...but it might. But maybe if it had never been a national holiday, we wouldn't be in this whole secularization of Christmas mess in the first place. It would simply be a Christian holiday and we could celebrate it in peace without all the controversy.
I am not the perfect Christian. I don't go to church regularly - or even often. To me, religion is a very private thing and it works best for me that way. But, I still believe, pray and remember what the holiday is really about. If I say Merry Christmas to a non-believer, it's not meant as an insult. Please accept it as it was intended...warmly. If you're a non-believer and you say Merry Christmas to me, that's not wrong, either. I would think you were just being nice if I know you are a non-believer.
But...if you don't want to include Jesus in your celebrations, even if only in your heart, you are not "celebrating Christmas." You are perfectly free to do whatever you like during this time of year, attend celebrations and enjoy everything everyone else is doing. These are all good things. But...you are not "celebrating Christmas." Have the courage of your convictions to call your celebration something else. Please don't attempt to redefine Christmas as something in purely secular terms because you don't understand it or want to be part of it but don't like the "rules." It's still a holiday to many people with a specific meaning. Even if the only place we celebrate it is in our hearts, we do still celebrate the real Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all! Believers and non-believers alike!
- New England, United States
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