June 17, 2013 6:40 AM

Memo to Rick Perry: Isn't it a bit early to be fighting against the "War on Christmas?"

On Thursday, Perry signed what has been dubbed the “Merry Christmas bill” into law. The measure allows schools to display religious symbols such as nativity scenes and Christmas trees so long as at least one other religious image or secular icon is also included. In addition, the new law allows staff members and students at the state’s public schools to exchange traditional holiday greetings, such as “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” and “happy holidays” without fear of reprisal…. “It’s a shame that a bill like this one I’m signing today is even required, but I’m proud that we’re standing up for religious freedom in this state,” Perry said at a “Religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion.”

I’m not certain what’s supposed to be protected by this bill, or even what the perceived “problem” is. Given the history and proclivities of Governor Goodhair and the God Squadders who currently have Texas public life by the short hairs, it’s not hard to see this as just another attempt to force Christianity on public school students.

There’s no “War on Christmas,” except in the paranoid, overly fertile imaginations of Conservatives Christians. Possessed of an “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality, they latch onto anything that allows them to continue to portray themselves as an “oppressed majority.” Would that they could read their Constitution…America is NOT a Christian nation; it’s a secular nation in which 80% self-identify as “Christian.” The reason that the Founding Fathers wanted our government to be secular is that many had recent experience with a system in which religion and governance where virtually indistinguishable. They knew that the admixture of religion and political power is a recipe for tyranny…a word Conservative Christians toss around blithely these days, in the sense that anything they don’t agree with is evidence of a “tyrannical government.”

Despite Perry’s hyper-religious philosophizing; “religious freedom” ABSOLUTELY means “freedom from religion.” Freedom of religion means just that, even if your religion is no religion at all. We don’t live in a system that requires you to pick a religion (except in the mind of Fundamentalist Christians who believe their flavor of Imaginary Friend is the One, True, and ONLY). The right to live free of religious dogma is every bit as valid and protected as the right to worship as you see fit. Religious Conservatives, renowned for the selective reading of Scripture and the Constitution, just refuse to recognize that.

The idea that there’s some sort of atheistic war against the use of phrases like “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hannukah” is as absurd as it is self-serving. Ultimately, it’s a smoke screen designed to conceal the true motives of dominionist theocrats like Perry and others who think “freedom of religion” means “freedom to my Conservative Christian beliefs.”

Every holiday season, Right-wing pundits bemoan the continuing attempt to “take the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas.” They decry companies using holiday sales flyers and catalogs that are religiously neutral. What they refuse to recognize is that businesses prosper when they can appeal to the broadest range of people possible. Some companies choose to forgo religiously themed words because, while not everyone celebrates Christmas for its religious roots, most Americans consider Christmas as a time to exchange gifts. That’s their right and their choice in a free country, and no, that doesn’t mean that there’s a “War on Christmas.” It simply means that not everyone celebrates as Jesus’ birthday…and there’s not a thing in the world wrong with that. It’s the essence of freedom of choice and freedom of religion.

Despite what Governor Pander McCrazy might have us think, “religious freedom” absolutely means “freedom FROM religion”- if an individuals make the personal choice to eschew religion altogether. It doesn’t mean “freedom to force the majority religion upon all,” except in the intolerant, paranoid, hyper-religious minds of dominionist theocrats, who believe that they have the God-ordained right to force their religion on all of us.

If you think that the role of government is to ensure that children are indoctrinated with the majority religion without allowing them the option to opt out of religion if that’s they’re choice, you’re working to create a theocracy. There’s actually a place to use as a model of what happens when government and religion become one and the same.

I hear Iran is beautiful this time of year.

Jeebus Krispix, ya’ll; is it necessary to fight the “War on Christmas” in June? Or is forcing your flavor of Imaginary Friend on all a 24/7/365 commitment? Man, y’all really need to get out more….

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on June 17, 2013 6:40 AM.

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