Friday, December 02, 2005

ENoB V - One for the thumb

For this week's ENoB, we delve into that minefield that is the holiday season. We are living in a time when large groups of people are offended by the words "Merry Christmas" and an equal number feel oppressed by "Happy Holidays", yet both sides want to express good will and cheer. Quite a paradox. And it's pretty much everywhere. Check out this article in the Union Tribune. Now, in my mind, private businesses have the right to do whatever they want to do. The moment you bring government property or sponsorship into it, you are bound by the establishment clause. For example, my employer has a Christmas tree in the lobby of our offices. There is no menorah. No Kwanzaa symbols. And that is fine by me. It's his company. He can do as he sees fit. There is no law that says "wherever you find a Christian symbol, you must pair it with those of other religions". It does not harm me or my family in any tangible way. On the flip side, when the City of Encinitas holds a city parade, and calls it The Encinitas Christmas Parade, that is a problem. It suggests that Christianity has specific legal status over and above other religions. It uses public resources to celebrate a religious holiday. I think the problem is that we have two Christmases and they overlap. There is a secular one and a religious one, but it is impossible to separate them. But we need to narrow this phenomenon down to a single question. Tricky. I think secular, religious, or both is too easy. Let's go with the political angle. Are attempts to restrict the government's use of Christian religious symbology an "assault on Christianity"? A fair and reasonable enforcement of he separation of church and state? Either, neither, or both?