Friday, December 9, 2011

Merry Chri--um--Holidays?

Christmas versus Holidays: A National Debate
In the last decade, a great debate has grown that begins each year in December. We have seen a trend in many state governments and in many corporate entities to take the Christmas out and put the Holidays in. We started having “holiday trees” in town squares and Walmarts, and “happy holidays” as the quote on City Hall signs and as the required greeting in stores nationwide. What many did not expect from this change was a huge backlash. After loud protest by many who felt the change was overly politically correct and insincere, most of the changes were reversed. Yet this year, as every year, it has come up again. Lincoln Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island is facing public backlash after dubbing his 17 foot spruce a “holiday tree.” According to the Associated Press, he said that calling the tree “a holiday tree is in keeping with Rhode Island’s founding in 1636 by religious dissident Roger Williams as a haven for tolerance, where government and religion were kept separate.” Since his decision, Chafee has heard mockery and scorn from the residents of Rhode Island as well as from national media. 

So, is calling it a holiday tree a nice way to include those of faiths other than Christianity? Or is it overly politically correct and just plain silly? Many are of the mind that a large decorated evergreen is a symbol of Christmas whether you call it that or not, and trying to change it seems insincere. Some atheists are even bothered by the change to “holiday tree.” As Christmas has become more secularized, they feel that they can celebrate with a tree and gifts without it necessarily being a religious holiday for them. Most do not get offended when someone wishes them a Merry Christmas but, in fact, wish it right back. There are, of course, extreme views on both ends. Some groups (popularly voiced by Lou Dobbs, for example) feel that refusal to say “Merry Christmas” or have a “Christmas tree” is a deliberate attempt to alienate Christians, while others feel government use of the term "Christmas" alienates those of other faiths or no faith, and even violates First Amendment rights mandating separation of church and state. What is your opinion? Do you feel that political correctness has gone too far, or do you think dubbing December the month of Holidays, rather than Christmas, is an appropriate reflection of the diversity of our nation?