Alright, we have an ongoing pissing contest in a Texas town over a nativity scene. Big deal. Happens every year, or so it seems. A nativity scene goes up on public property and some big bad atheist group wants to have it taken down. There are many times....hell, most times where I think "Who really cares?". But that is just a personal view on it. A nativity scene and religious symbols surrounding the holiday doesn't really bother me, even though I don't believe in Bible god or Jesus. It's like Santa Claus to me. Do I worry about a man coming down my chimney and invading my home? Of course not....it's not real. The nativity scene could have baby Sponge Bob laying in the manger and it would be just as real to me as the Jesus baby. But, despite my personal opinion, there are valid reasons for not allowing a religious nativity scene on public property.
First of all, our nation's founding fathers (most of them) believed that church and state should remain separate from one another and that the state (government) shouldn't support a religion. That is not only for the benefit of the government, but it's also a benefit for religion. Religion gets the gift of living a tax free existence, in regards to how much money it brings in. Religion is allowed to flourish, so long as it is not infringing on the rights of others in a tax payer funded place. That means public parks and government centers are off limits for religious displays. If we allow religious displays on public grounds, then perhaps we should expect churches and religious organizations to start paying taxes and have their books audited. And perhaps the government should step in and start looking at the curriculum that private schools teach in regards to religion. Maybe government officials can be on hand at every service to make sure that political candidates were not endorsed? If you want to be a part of the government by being able to display and promote your religion on tax payer funded ground, then you must expect that the public wants to know exactly what is going on inside of the churches. Maybe getting this out in the open and making religious organizations pay taxes could be a good thing. Atheists can start going into these churches and handing out literature on Sunday morning. Gonna feel a little persecuted then?
There is no "War On Christmas". It's a fallacy. There is no "War On Christianity". It's a fallacy. There are organizations out there that want to beat back religious influence, that's for damn sure, but to believe you are being singled out for persecution because of a nativity scene being challenged is sort getting yourself worked up for no good reason. Would it be OK to start displaying symbols and depicting scenes from other religions on publicly funded ground? If it's OK for a nativity scene to go up, then it must be fine for an atheist group to place their own nativity scene right beside it, right? Or put up a big sign saying "There is no god, Jesus is a fairy tale".....down with that? Perhaps the Muslims could start sitting outside every courthouse in America and do scenes about Muhammad catching a winged horse to heaven? Maybe Satanists could do their version of a nativity scene? Is that OK?
The story of this small Texas town got to me and I posted on my Facebook page that I sort of thought....ehh....just leave it be, it's only for a week or so. But, I had a friend make some very good points to me about why you can't give an inch. If you give an inch here and an inch there, when does it stop? And who does it stop? We don't need anti-religion propaganda on tax payer land any more than we need the religious propaganda. And if you allow a Christian display and don't allow other displays, there is no line between church and state at that point, as Christianity would be basically endorsed by the state. What about the Muslims who may live in that town? Are they not tax payers? Do they not have the right to not feel like they live in a town where one religion was not preferred over another? Here is a snippet from the story I'm going to link from FOX News;
Those quotes make me cringe just a little and chuckle a little more. You can have a nativity scene at ANY church and you can leave it up year around if you like. You can have a nativity scene at any privately owned place. You just can't do it on public grounds where people who may not agree with you also go and pay taxes to use. Those comments above have no place in the discussion. You can display the Ten Commandments in school. A Christian/Jewish school. You can openly pray to a Christian god at graduation. A Christian school graduation. You can hand out Christian literature at church or in private places. You shouldn't be able to wield your influence in public places, unless you are ready to accept all that is going to come with that. That would be a bad deal for both the Christian and non-Christian.
Let's face it. Christmas is not a religious holiday. It's pagan. That's it. Pure and simple. Many of the traditions that Christians (and everyone else) follow every year are from pagan cultures, not Christian ones. Besides Jesus, there are other "gods" who claim birth on December 25th. All of them came before Jesus. Coincidence? And let's face something else. If about 80% of Americans consider themselves Christians, what are you afraid of? How can you feel attacked with that number? How can you feel attacked when almost every political leader in our nation brings up god every time they give a speech? How can you feel attacked when "In God We Trust" is on our currency? How can you feel attacked when the pledge of allegiance has the words "one nation under god" firmly in place? How can you feel attacked when a great deal of the Christmas music played is religious in nature? It's nonsense and just a reason for Christians to kick and scream a little bit. If you are offended that a small group of people want to ruin your fun, then shouldn't you also feel concern when a large majority wants to have it's way, simply to have its' way? Try a little self awareness and try to put yourself in the shoes of someone that doesn't agree with you.
Muslims were not allowed to buy a piece of property and build a mosque in New York City, but Christian groups feel persecuted because they can't put a nativity scene up on public ground? Ha Ha......wow.....talk about having your head up your ass! It's WAY up there.
The answer is this. Find any church or private land and put up your nativity scene. I'd love to take my kids to see it. For full disclosure, if they have a live scene at a local courthouse, I'd take my children to see it if they wanted to go. But that doesn't mean it should be there. There is a can of worms that can be opened and I don't think Christians want that to happen. Once we start giving in to open season on religious displays in publicly funded places, you are not going to be happy with what ensues. You'll be begging to follow the Constitution of the United States again. Enjoy yourselves. Enjoy your religion. Enjoy talking about the birth of Christ with your friends and family. Religion is a personal venture that can have a real impact in people's lives in a very positive way. But everyone doesn't believe and that should be respected.
And for atheists and agnostics who feel they have to battle religion at every turn. I support the fight to keep government and religion separate. But, get over the anger. Sure, I have my own anger story from my "transformation", but at some point you have to let it go and work from love and knowledge and not from disdain and anger. A dogmatic fundamentalist Christian is no less annoying to me than a spiteful, angry atheist who won't concede that religion can (and does) have a positive place in many corners of our society.
Let's try to respect each other and not spill our anger, venom, and frustration into areas where we only cause a greater gap to emerge between one another. Love and understanding is the only way to truly bridge gaps. If every move that everyone of us made came from love, how much better of a world would we live in? If we cared more about human beings than getting people to believe or not believe, couldn't we build towards a society, a country....a WORLD, where no child goes hungry? Where no child has to fear a bomb being dropped on their home? Where a mother doesn't have to stay up at night worrying about her 19 year old son or daughter fighting in wars? Wouldn't it be a great world if every child got a meal, not just at Christmas, but every day? Aren't those the important things? Put the nativity scenes on church grounds or private places and enjoy the season. Perhaps you may draw in some non-believers and you can share your religion with them....or not. Maybe we can all enjoy the hope, joy, love, and peace that seems so promisingly close at this time of year.
May you enjoy thinking of Christmas' past with friends and loved ones who are no longer with us. May you enjoy the presence of friends and family and appreciate the love and compassion we can show one another. May each of us share a little love and compassion with a stranger who is need of comfort.
Happy Christmas To You All!!!