Day #9 – Religion
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I am not a religious person. Growing up I came from a freakishly religious family so I may have a slightly one sided view of this topic as I have gone completely the other way. However, I will go on and try to only offend a few of you.
Christmas was supposed to be a religious holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ. What I don’t know is how it ever came about. Christ was not born on December 25th so why do we celebrate it on that day. Granted, I have no urge to delve into that topic, but it makes me wonder about the motivations of the holiday. But this is by far the least of my issues with religion over the holiday season. The things that bother me the most are the once a year religious people who preach about how important religion is in our lives, the fact that we live in a country based on the idea of freedom of religion but we ignore other religions major holidays, and then there is all the issues of Christmas in the schools.
I see a number of people I know that never talk about religion (thankfully for me) and never go to church but when the holiday season comes around you would think that their church leaders come around once a week just to get advice from them. Their houses are decorated in religious festive items. They have the nativity out on their front lawn with religious Christmas songs playing in the background. In my town, they do a live nativity the week before Christmas. They have a bonfire and you take a hay ride and listen to the story of Christmas as it is acted out in different scenes as you go long the ride. These once a year religious people would be ones who would volunteer to play parts in these activities or help organize or run it. They would hand out hot chocolate or keep the fire going on the cold wintry nights. They want to show just how religious they really are to everyone.
They talk to everyone how they dislike the commercialization of the holidays when the focus needs to be on Christ. They volunteer their time at their church’s activities to help the less fortunate. All of these things would not normally bother me except they only occur from the end of November to the beginning of January and then it is back to the norm for these people. I like to call these people once a year Christians. Now don’t get me wrong, these people do get a lot done and help a lot of people in their once a year crusades. They also get their message out to lots of people that Christ should be the focus of the holiday season. They influence a lot of people, but for me I respect the opinion of people who can follow through with things they say are important. To keep these things in their lives all the time not just when they think they are important.
Most of us know the story of how the US was founded and some of its basic principles were freedom of speech, right to bear arms, and freedom of religion. You don’t need to know all the details to know that it was important to our founding fathers that everyone get the right to choose what religion they wanted to worship and not be persecuted for those beliefs. Yet, we create this huge season based off of only the beliefs of Christianity. We close stores and government buildings. We ignore the fact that all this attention we give during this holiday season must confuse children who are of different faiths. They must wonder why they don’t get a special season devoted to their special religious days. The only saving grace we have to all of this is that the holiday season is really no longer about religion. It is about commercialization. It is about Santa Clause and reindeer, the toys and things you get and give to others. It is about lights and music that has nothing to do with Christianity. No, this holiday season is not about religion and we should stop pretending that it is. Then maybe we could get others to embrace the holidays and understand what they really are all about. We may even be able to rename Christmas into Consumption Day.
When I was a kid we used to have a Christmas program that we would put on for all the parents at school. I honestly have no idea what we did during those programs. It could have been the Christmas story about Mary and Jesus, but it could also just have been us singing many different Christmas songs. What I do remember is that by the time I got into high school it was a hot topic. People form other faiths wanted Christmas to be taken out of the schools. They wanted a clear separation of church and state and bringing Christmas into the schools is a breech of this philosophy. People from other religions wanted everything of Christian symbolism removed from the schools. To me, I think that it is a little extreme. I would think that instead of fighting for removing the symbolism and taking things away from people (which seems to be the way we as Americans go), they should have fought for inclusion and education of their religions. They should have fought for maybe a week of their own dedicated to their religion, where the schools are required to teach about the celebration of their religion. Can you imagine how understanding we would become of others if we just knew more about each other? Instead we judge, we hold grudges, we only think about what we are not getting and want to take the same things away from others. Now I do believe that we should not have religion in schools, but as I said before Christmas is no longer about religion. It is something entirely different and could Christmas be allowed without Christianity? Why not? But I also would not be offended it they wanted Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and any other special religious holidays taught about in the schools. To me open and honest education can only help eliminate discrimination and false beliefs of who and what other people are and believe.
Happy Consumption Day and