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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Establishment's Establishment 

There are truths, there are half-truths, and then there are outright lies. This one falls into the category of half-truth.

Here's what Jennifer said:

This Just In...

House Voting on War!

Specifically, the war on Christmas. After quoting from the National Jewish Democratic Council (more in a minute), Jennifer concludes:

Yes, Virginia... and North Carolina, Oklahoma, New Jersey and others... your GOP representatives believe in the imaginary 'war on Christmas,' and apparently they think this is the best use of Congress' time.

Jennifer, incidentally, is a fellow Christian. Actually, she's not a fellow, but she's a Christian. And this strikes her as a waste of time.

The National Jewish Democratic Council points out something else (emphasis theirs):

And what happened when Democrats asked that the symbols of Chanukah be protected along with the symbols of Christmas? The House GOP simply said "no."

Well, I'm not necessarily going to take the NJDC's word for it, so I went to look at House Resolution 579 myself (at least as it currently stands):


H. RES. 579

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and
traditions of Christmas should be protected.

DECEMBER 6, 2005

Mrs. JO ANN DAVIS of Virginia (for herself, Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland, Mr. GOODE, and Mr. JONES of North Carolina) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Government Reform

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected.

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States would prohibit the establishment of religion, not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions.

I've blogged on this repeatedly, including the question of "Who is God?"

Frankly, I don't believe that mention of god (whoever it is), or even of the Christian God, should be excised from every publicly-funded function or textbook. There are circumstances in which it is appropriate to mention the religious context of historical events. Why did Serra come to California? Why did the Pilgrims come to Massachusetts? Why did a bunch of people decide to settle in Utah? What organization was Malcolm X associated with at one point?

Similarly, I don't believe that the government should ban all references to Christmas. Now a business can certainly ban references to Christmas under certain circumstances. If MegaCorp instructs its people to say "Happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Kwanzaa," that's their perogative. (If MegaCorp instructs its people not to wear cross earrings or Star of David earrings, that's potentially a different issue altogether.)

However, if the NJDC is correct in noting that Davis et al were not willing to extend the same consideration to other religious holidays that they would to Christmas, then that is very troubling indeed. Rightly or wrongly, the bill itself could be construed as an establishment of the Christian religion - unlike the monetary statement "In God We Trust," this particular resolution specifically addresses the Christian religion, to the exclusion of other religions.

However, this all may be moot, since the status of this bill as of 8:14 pm last night was as listed here:

Latest Major Action: 12/14/2005 House floor actions. Status: At the conclusion of debate, the Yeas and Nays were demanded and ordered. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 8, rule XX, the Chair announced that further proceedings on the motion would be postponed.

Now I don't speak Beltway-speak, but it sounds to me like the bill didn't pass. And this was generated as of 6:00 pm Thursday evening Washington DC time.

Ah, poor Congresspersons. They can't go home and say "I voted for Christmas!"

[OE UPDATE 12/16: Yes they can.]

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Thank you for taking the time to look into further! And thank you for clarifying that I am not a fellow.
During our annual Users' Conference, our closing banquet had a fifties theme. I took the easy way out and threw a leather jacket over a t-shirt. Three of my co-workers got costumes to dress up like Olivia Newton-John's friends in Grease. One of the three was a fellow. And all I can say is that he is a very ugly woman.
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