Is It Possible To Have An Intelligent Debate About How We Can Celebrate The Holidays In A Non-Denominational Way?

Every time the holidays come around, we come across on our site a debate complaining about Christmas. In particular, "CHRISTmas".

 

In his Politics & Current Events posting School Board Bans CHRISTmas decorations on school buses, our member Don complains about a recent decision by his local school board for banning "CHRISTmas" decorations on buses:

 

What is going on in this country, are we allowing people to control, what our forfathers, fought and died for so we could still have a country founded on "CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES" As a Canadian, I feel that our rights are being taken away because other ethnic groups want it that way. I would like that anyone who feel that this board has gone "TOO" far to write them letting them know that they need to take back their recommendations, and tell the people who are raising the stick to buy and use their buses privately. This is a free country and we have rights and if they "DO NOT LIKE " how it has been run for decades to leave it.

 

Now, there are obviously a few sentiments in this posting that runs against the anti-oppression framework that is a part of our site's community guidelines. (In particular, racism & religion oppression.) 

 

Let us be clear: we do not support or even encourage these sort of opinions, especially the kind that lay blame upon "ethnic groups" as well as assert the assumption that our country has a responsibility to institutionalize "Christian principles" even though our government clearly supports pluralism and cultural diversity.

 

We are interested then, in unpacking the frustration that Don has in his forum posting. From the "CHRISTmas", it's clear that he is concerned about the holidays becoming non-denominational with the Tri-Board Student Transportation Services' decision to ban Christmas decorations on their school buses. (The Services' official reason for the ban is reportedly around safety issues.) 

 

Sure, you could argue this is a rather "hum bug" decision. If we can't have Santa Claus decorations, why should we even have inclusive holidays at this time of the year? Why don't everyone enjoy their own darn holidays and keep their Grinch noses out of "ours"?


Clearly, this is a sore spot. As the holidays become increasingly non-denominational, how do we still encourage our communities & the next generation to still honor the spirit of good will, giving & helping others?


(Or is this debate moot, since we're really just celebrating now an annual holiday-themed mass consumption month?)


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Tags: ", , , , Christmas, Holidays, Kingston, , , Christmas, Holidays, Kingston, Services, , Christmas, Holidays, Kingston, Services, Services, Services", Student, Transportation, Tri-Board, Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, More…non-denominational, religion

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"WE " DON'T HAVE TO. DECORATE AND WISH EVERYONE A "MERRY CHRISTMAS", ALL YOU WANT. But 1. iF YOUR GOVERNMENT HAS A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, ANY GOVERNMENT PAID FOR ,HAS TO HAVE A NON-RELIGIOUS THEME. 2. BUSINESSES WHO HAVE TO SELL TO MAKE MONEY CANNOT AFFORD TO OFFEND NON CHRISTIAN CUSTOMERS. YOU CAN'T TELL THEM HOW TO RUN THEIR BUSINESS, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY THERE.


Get off your biased horse lady. I am a Conservative and my post BEGAN with the statement "It is completely reasonable to expect our governments to not spend tax dollars on a religious celebration". There is nothing about the concept of separation of church and state that is the exclusive domain of Liberals or Democrats.

 

Your bias also shows through when you intimate that any complaints must be racist in nature. Any taxpayer is fully entitled to express displeasure when any government spends and particularly when they spend in favour of a particular group. "They" are ordinary citizens from widely varying backgrounds that object to governments sponsoring displays that are overtly Christian in nature.

 

Christmas is much more than a simple religious occasion. It has come to be a holiday/season during which we (and I include many non-religious or non-Christian individuals) celebrate and encourage an attitude and the practise of generosity, forgiveness and tolerance throughout the land. As such, it is completely normal for all organizations to participate and that even includes the publicly supported ones. In the latter case, care should be exercised to maintain a non-religious attitude. That care does NOT dictate zero participation.

 

The school bus incident is an excellent example. The decorations on the bus were modest and were all done entirely with the time and money of the individual driver. They presented no safety hazard and did not promote the religious aspects of Christmas. "They" in this case were the owners fearful of offending someone. Like an employee who chooses to decorate his work space, it should be allowed provided it is not blatantly religious and not excessive. Expressions of celebration do not offend anyone except a few Grinchs who are usually bent on asserting their own agenda. In a similar manner, Christmas celebrations in public schools should be encouraged while care is taken to not promote the religious aspects of the holiday.

 

Christmas is much more than a religious event and I personally object to the suppression of all celebrations just because the holiday has its origins in religion.

 

 

 

 

 


 Karen MacNeil said:

Would someone please explain specifically who "they" are??? These mysterious grinchs are trying to ruin Christmas, and quite obviously they must be immigrants because the undercurrent in many of the comments on this issue are thinly veiled racism. What part of SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is so difficult to understand?????? If you want religious practices in your school than send your kids to private, or religious, schools not funded by tax payers! My Dad's 21 yr old brother died on the beach in Normandy so I could have the freedom to say HAPPY HOLIDAYS if I want to, and others have the right to say Merry Christmas. Why is this even an issue??? Government funded organizations and properties  must remain neutral and not appear to support one religion over another(someone should explain this concept to Republicans and Conservatives). These elected officials represent more then just Christians, and I can just imagine the furrow if government decided to close parliament for the Haj or any other non christian religious celebration.

 

Redo, if you had bothered to read the original post you might have realized that the original complaint from the person who started the discussion was that "they" were trying to remove the religious aspect of Christmas.  This is a similar theme to posts that are being circulated on facebook complaining of the same issue, and frequently referring to Muslims as being the cause of the religious aspect of Christmas being removed.  Also, if you are unaware of the connection between Republicans (Conservatives) and the moral majority and the Christian right you must have been living under a rock for the last number of years!! And being a taxpayer does NOT give anyone the right to express an opinion if that opinion promotes hatred or intolerance! And did you see a picture of this school bus because I didn't and therefore couldn't comment on exactly what the decorations were, and whether or not they were in fact safe. And if I hear one more person refer to MY country  (Canada) as a "Christian" nation I'm going to vomit!!! My country is a democracy that respects all citizens regardless of their beliefs or non beliefs!!  In closing your 2nd last paragraph which refers to: "all schools should be encouraged to celebrate Christmas" indicates you have no idea what the dabate is all about. It's about people who WANT the Christian aspect of Christmas promoted in schools and other public places. Perhaps you might want to get your facts straight before you comment in the future, it makes your post much more relevant.
redo said:


Get off your biased horse lady. I am a Conservative and my post BEGAN with the statement "It is completely reasonable to expect our governments to not spend tax dollars on a religious celebration". There is nothing about the concept of separation of church and state that is the exclusive domain of Liberals or Democrats.

 

Your bias also shows through when you intimate that any complaints must be racist in nature. Any taxpayer is fully entitled to express displeasure when any government spends and particularly when they spend in favour of a particular group. "They" are ordinary citizens from widely varying backgrounds that object to governments sponsoring displays that are overtly Christian in nature.

 

Christmas is much more than a simple religious occasion. It has come to be a holiday/season during which we (and I include many non-religious or non-Christian individuals) celebrate and encourage an attitude and the practise of generosity, forgiveness and tolerance throughout the land. As such, it is completely normal for all organizations to participate and that even includes the publicly supported ones. In the latter case, care should be exercised to maintain a non-religious attitude. That care does NOT dictate zero participation.

 

The school bus incident is an excellent example. The decorations on the bus were modest and were all done entirely with the time and money of the individual driver. They presented no safety hazard and did not promote the religious aspects of Christmas. "They" in this case were the owners fearful of offending someone. Like an employee who chooses to decorate his work space, it should be allowed provided it is not blatantly religious and not excessive. Expressions of celebration do not offend anyone except a few Grinchs who are usually bent on asserting their own agenda. In a similar manner, Christmas celebrations in public schools should be encouraged while care is taken to not promote the religious aspects of the holiday.

 

Christmas is much more than a religious event and I personally object to the suppression of all celebrations just because the holiday has its origins in religion.

 

 

 

 

 


 Karen MacNeil said:

Would someone please explain specifically who "they" are??? These mysterious grinchs are trying to ruin Christmas, and quite obviously they must be immigrants because the undercurrent in many of the comments on this issue are thinly veiled racism. What part of SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is so difficult to understand?????? If you want religious practices in your school than send your kids to private, or religious, schools not funded by tax payers! My Dad's 21 yr old brother died on the beach in Normandy so I could have the freedom to say HAPPY HOLIDAYS if I want to, and others have the right to say Merry Christmas. Why is this even an issue??? Government funded organizations and properties  must remain neutral and not appear to support one religion over another(someone should explain this concept to Republicans and Conservatives). These elected officials represent more then just Christians, and I can just imagine the furrow if government decided to close parliament for the Haj or any other non christian religious celebration.

 


 .

Sorry Kathleen you've definitely been living under a rock! Do some research and you'll find many sources regarding the connection between Conservatives and religion. Here are just a few: The support of Canadian evangelicals for right wing parties comes as no surprise to political scientist David Laycock. "With their evangelical Christian leaders," Laycock wrote, "Reform and the Alliance have also appealed to social and moral conservatives uncomfortable with what they have seen as an over-secularized society. Such voters have worried about the threats both to the traditional family and to citizens' sense of personal responsibility that they attribute to the modern Canadian welfare state."  And according to author and politician Dennis Gruending "The vote of evangelical Christians and Catholics who attend church weekly was a deciding factor in the election of a Conservative minority government in January 2006.".

 

As for the separation of church and state you are right, however we do not have a state, or national church, and all religions are afforded equal treatment under the law. As for Toronto allowing Muslims to pray on school property you just reinforced what I said originally about an undertone of somehow buying into the idea that this so called erosion of Christian traditions is happening because Muslims make demands. I don't think those Muslims are wanting to hang their regious symbols on the wall, and expecting the whole school to sing along with, or listen to, their religious music. As did  Redo, you also missed that this discussion is about allowing schools to display Christian related materials on school property and that is just not right. And you don't have to give up your traditions you just don't have the right to force them on anyone else on government supported property. I also want to know what makes you think they were " a few baubles" did you also see pictures that I didn't? How do you know they weren't pictures of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus. And if you think for one minute that there is a school anywhere in this country that would allow any faith other than Christian to decorate anything on school property of a Muslim, Jewish, or any other religion with their religious symbols, you really do live under a rock! Happy Holidays!

Well, I sure wasn't aware of that and I sure haven't been living under a rock, cos the last time I looked there was little connection to Canadian conservatives and the Republican Christian right - they are two different kettles of fish.  Heck some Americans are under the impression that even Canadian conservatives are 'commies'.

Not to mention that the separation of Church and State is actually an American concept not Canadian, as for those who just may be 'living under a rock', the Canadian Constitution protects freedom of religion and as you must know, our leading constitutional document of 1982 states in the preamble that we acknowledge the supremacy of God.

Hanging up a few Christmas decorations hardly promotes hatred, and respecting other people's cultures does not mean I should have to give up mine.   Toronto schools allow Muslim prayers on public school time so what's wrong with a few well meaning baubles.

When the State forgets its role of protecting the common good and steps into re-engineering the customs and values of the majority it's time to protest.






Karen MacNeil said:

------.  Also, if you are unaware of the connection between Republicans (Conservatives) and the moral majority and the Christian right you must have been living under a rock for the last number of years!!

And being a taxpayer does NOT give anyone the right to express an opinion if that opinion promotes hatred or intolerance! And did you see a picture of this school bus because I didn't and therefore couldn't comment on exactly what the decorations were, and whether or not they were in fact safe. And if I hear one more person refer to MY country  (Canada) as a "Christian" nation I'm going to vomit!!! My country is a democracy that respects all citizens regardless of their beliefs or non beliefs!!  In closing your 2nd last paragraph which refers to: "all schools should be encouraged to celebrate Christmas" indicates you have no idea what the dabate is all about. It's about people who WANT the Christian aspect of Christmas promoted in schools and other public places. Perhaps you might want to get your facts straight before you comment in the future, it makes your post much more relevant.

This is definitely my last word on this subject, why are you having such a hard time with what the term ON TOPIC means???? And just for the record I do not suffer from "Christophobia", I probably do suffer from a phobia of people who like to think of themselves as "tolerant" until you rattle their chains. Like those "scary, scary American Christians" who just do mild mannered things like scream obscentities at funerals for fallen soldiers, or the Tea Party suppporters who would like to have all homosexuals removed from the planet because they don't conform to their interpretation of the bible. Lets see now, David Karesh, Timothy McVey, Eric Rudolph, or my personal favourite George Bush who made the following statement  During the invasion of Iraq in 2003:  “‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.” no, none of these so called Christians are scary??

 

Also, you might have a state funded RC school system where you live, but in my community they just sold the last RC supported school east of Montreal to pay for the legal settlement to compensate the MANY, MANY victims of church sanctioned sexual abuse by clergy! No, no "scary Christians" there either!! It is my understanding that enrollment is down in most North American religions so I have a really hard time believing your statement that "the majority of the population of this country believes in the Supremacy of God", to borrow a well known phrase "show me the proof"!!!

Re:

Christmas is much more than a religious event and I personally object to the suppression of all celebrations just because the holiday has its origins in religion.

-----------------

Don't forget, "holiday" has its origins as "Holy Day". Therefore . . .

"Christmas" has its origins in the "Christ" (Jesus), a date which is a celebration of His birth.

Others can make of it what they wish - forgiveness, kindness, tolerance, etc. - but it doesn't give them to right to suppress its original meaning as something to be avoided or attempt to twist it to suit a different purpose. Christmas is about honouring the Christ child. Those who try to commercialize this event or dilute it for mass consumption are merely denying their Christian roots. We have the freedom to stand for whatever religion we choose. Everyone has that right, and there's no need to feel embarrassed about it.
 


It may be your last word but it is not mine. You can dredge up all the myths you want about claims of this or that extreme group supporting Conservatives. THAT DOES NOT MEAN CONSERVATIVES SUPPORT THEM! Nor does it mean Conservatives, as a group have or claim ANY of the characteristics of these extremists. In particular, it does not mean Canadian Conservatives can, in any way, be characterized synonymous with the American extremists you seem obsessed with.

 

Your preoccupation with Americans ("American Christians" who just do mild mannered things like scream obscentities at funerals for fallen soldiers, or the Tea Party suppporters who would like to have all homosexuals removed from the planet because they don't conform to their interpretation of the bible. Lets see now, David Karesh, Timothy McVey, Eric Rudolph, or my personal favourite George Bush "), and particularly extremists Americans, is unusual in a predominately Canadian forum but more important is your insulting intimation that all Canadian Conservatives are , or can be, associated with these American extremists.

 

Your attempt to paint all Conservatives with the characteristics of some extremists minority groups that you PERCEIVE as Conservative is the very definition of bigotry.

 


 Karen MacNeil said:

This is definitely my last word on this subject, why are you having such a hard time with what the term ON TOPIC means???? And just for the record I do not suffer from "Christophobia", I probably do suffer from a phobia of people who like to think of themselves as "tolerant" until you rattle their chains. Like those "scary, scary American Christians" who just do mild mannered things like scream obscentities at funerals for fallen soldiers, or the Tea Party suppporters who would like to have all homosexuals removed from the planet because they don't conform to their interpretation of the bible. Lets see now, David Karesh, Timothy McVey, Eric Rudolph, or my personal favourite George Bush who made the following statement  During the invasion of Iraq in 2003:  “‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.” no, none of these so called Christians are scary??

 

Also, you might have a state funded RC school system where you live, but in my community they just sold the last RC supported school east of Montreal to pay for the legal settlement to compensate the MANY, MANY victims of church sanctioned sexual abuse by clergy! No, no "scary Christians" there either!! It is my understanding that enrollment is down in most North American religions so I have a really hard time believing your statement that "the majority of the population of this country believes in the Supremacy of God", to borrow a well known phrase "show me the proof"!!!

Frankly, I don't care how or what the conservatives believe or practice. It is their choice, same as it is the rest of democracy countries. I am in the U.S., i DON'T REALLY LIKE DIGS AT OUR COUNTRY. We're not all conservatives, liberals, or even Christians, but we do all have liberty to practice as we believe.

I am so tired of hearing about why Christmas shouldn't be openly celebrated!  It's not immigrants who complain about Christmas decorations or saying "merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."  It's the average so-called "moral minority" who tell us all how we should think and how wrong we are for even thinking at all!  I am Not a christian, yet when a person wishes me either a merry Christmas or happy holiday, I say merry Christmas. Why? Because it's Christmas and someone is wishing me goodness.  I don't take away anything bad in this greeting, because there is no right or wrong in it?  It's a celebration, a time of year when people are a little nicer and a little more giving.  How can that be wrong?  We don't say anything to Muslims, Jews or any other religion when they celebrate their "holy days," we wish them well, as we should.  Christians aren't trying to push their religion on us, just as Muslims or Jews aren't.  All Holidays that promote caring and giving should be acknowledged.  That['s that!  I wish certain people would stop putting "racism" and "prejudice" into everyone's opinion.  It's at the very least patronizing and at the worst malicious and hate-mongering!  By the way, we're all immigrants and this immigrant enjoys Christmas and the message of good will that it brings!

redo said:


Get off your biased horse lady. I am a Conservative and my post BEGAN with the statement "It is completely reasonable to expect our governments to not spend tax dollars on a religious celebration". There is nothing about the concept of separation of church and state that is the exclusive domain of Liberals or Democrats.

 

Your bias also shows through when you intimate that any complaints must be racist in nature. Any taxpayer is fully entitled to express displeasure when any government spends and particularly when they spend in favour of a particular group. "They" are ordinary citizens from widely varying backgrounds that object to governments sponsoring displays that are overtly Christian in nature.

 

Christmas is much more than a simple religious occasion. It has come to be a holiday/season during which we (and I include many non-religious or non-Christian individuals) celebrate and encourage an attitude and the practise of generosity, forgiveness and tolerance throughout the land. As such, it is completely normal for all organizations to participate and that even includes the publicly supported ones. In the latter case, care should be exercised to maintain a non-religious attitude. That care does NOT dictate zero participation.

 

The school bus incident is an excellent example. The decorations on the bus were modest and were all done entirely with the time and money of the individual driver. They presented no safety hazard and did not promote the religious aspects of Christmas. "They" in this case were the owners fearful of offending someone. Like an employee who chooses to decorate his work space, it should be allowed provided it is not blatantly religious and not excessive. Expressions of celebration do not offend anyone except a few Grinchs who are usually bent on asserting their own agenda. In a similar manner, Christmas celebrations in public schools should be encouraged while care is taken to not promote the religious aspects of the holiday.

 

Christmas is much more than a religious event and I personally object to the suppression of all celebrations just because the holiday has its origins in religion.

 

 

 

 

 


 Karen MacNeil said:

Would someone please explain specifically who "they" are??? These mysterious grinchs are trying to ruin Christmas, and quite obviously they must be immigrants because the undercurrent in many of the comments on this issue are thinly veiled racism. What part of SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is so difficult to understand?????? If you want religious practices in your school than send your kids to private, or religious, schools not funded by tax payers! My Dad's 21 yr old brother died on the beach in Normandy so I could have the freedom to say HAPPY HOLIDAYS if I want to, and others have the right to say Merry Christmas. Why is this even an issue??? Government funded organizations and properties  must remain neutral and not appear to support one religion over another(someone should explain this concept to Republicans and Conservatives). These elected officials represent more then just Christians, and I can just imagine the furrow if government decided to close parliament for the Haj or any other non christian religious celebration.

 

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