This is crossposted at Bring it on where there are many many links. They didn’t survive the cross post
It’s an expansion of a post I wrote last week; Neil’s comment made me think, and face some realities I choose to push to the back of my multi-cultural mind. But if you read Neil’s post today….
I enforce my comment policy. If you hate me or the ACLU, I would feel sorry for you, but…go to Bring it on! where I will answer your comment
Yes I know; you’re sick of this subject. Me too. But here I go…
I’m a New York Jew; a life long Democrat and a card carrying member of the ACLU. Much of the time I’m very disappointed in the Democratic party, but at this moment it’s better than the alternative. I don’t believe in all of the ACLU’s causes, but I believe that everybody has a right to be represented.
But when I read blogs that blame the ACLU and/or minority groups for taking Christ out of Christmas, I have to say that as a Jew I, and most Jews, want you to celebrate Christmas. On Christmas Jews traditionally went to the movies and ate Chinese food. We think it would be good if you spent time in church or with your family; as we liked it when the theaters weren’t packed.
In the 80’s my friends practicing Catholics wanted to go to the Limelight on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass. I was beyond shocked. The Limelight was (is?) a disco in a former Catholic Church. It sounded blasphemous to me. It felt like eating pork on Yom Kippur. We went; and I did have a life changing experience.
I don’t think I believe in G-d but I respect people of any religion who truly believe. If I were to feel that I was in any way denying you the ability to pray, I would feel that I have failed as both a person and a person who does worship The First Amendment. I don’t care about the manger in the courthouse. But understand something else. I care greatly that church and state stay separate.
Before the news of the mega churches closing I wrote a post in my personal blog about the Christmas/holiday season mess. One of the comments was from a Jewish blogger, Neil, who is usually very witty and tres lite. He really struck a chord; couldn’t stop thinking about his comment and asked for permission to quote him.
Frankly, I think one of the things that makes our country so great is that the majority religion has tried so hard
to make minorities feel comfortable. Where else have Jews and others been made to feel as equals and as comfortable with Christian holidays? Certainly not in many European countries where you are considered Jewish first, then a citizen of that country.
New York is not the rest of the country. I think it would be nice to bring back some of the religiosity to Christmas in big cities, so it isnâ€™t such a consumerized holiday. Thank you, Christians, for being so good to the rest of us. You can now celebrate Christmas a little more openly.
However, things are different in smaller cities and towns around the country. Those places have a habit of mixing up religion and public policy. It is places like those where I donâ€™t think it appropriate for the public sector to promote religion symbolism and ideology.
Here is where I want to delete most of what I wrote before Neil’s comment. It feels too silly. As Jews we do feel grateful to the Christians in this country for allowing us to be full citizens. We’re grateful because our great grandparents weren’t, usually, allowed to own land, have a profession or be citizens of their towns. They were allowed to be conscripted into the Czars army so they could wipe out Jewish villages. We’re grateful that they left and came to this remarkable country.
As a child I would ask my father why they didn’t do anything about the camps. “We didn’t know.” After Viet Nam, I understood. But Roosevelt, the people’s hero, had evidence of the camps, and our country did nothing. Nor did Roosevelt bomb the train tracks leading to them.
When boats of refuges came here, we turned them away, or didn’t let them near here, knowing that we were dooming them to death. After the war we took people who had been in concentration camps and put them in displaced persons camps. We had strict quotas on the number of refuges let in here
Yet we were still grateful because we who were here, and those of us yet to be born were afforded the opportunity to be full citizens. When we bought houses we remembered our ancestors who weren’t allowed to. It still amazes me and I’m basically third generation; but I heard so many stories and met so many people with numbers on their arms. I have never taken being free for granted. You accept us as we have never before been accepted in modern history.
Separation of church and state is built into our Constitution. If you understand the history of Jews in America, you will understand why we care so much about The First Amendment. It’s not just a symbol of our freedom, but a tool that is used to preserve every Americans right to keep church and state separate. Here are two quotes by Fran Quigley, Executive Director, Indiana Civil Liberties Union
For example, the Alliance Defense Fund celebrates the season with an “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas” campaign, implying that the ACLU has challenged such holiday greetings. (As part of the effort, you can get a pamphlet and two Christmas pins for $29.)
The website WorldNetDaily touts a book claiming “a thorough and virulent anti-Christmas campaign is being waged today by liberal activists and ACLU fanatics.” The site’s magazine has suggested there will be ACLU efforts to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency, fire military chaplains, and expunge all references to God in America’s founding documents. (Learn more for just $19.95 . . .
Of course, there is no “Merry Christmas” lawsuit, nor is there any ACLU litigation about U.S. currency, military chaplains, etc. But the facts are not important to these groups, because their real message is this: By protecting the freedom of Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians through preventing government entanglement with religion, the ACLU is somehow infringing on the rights of those with majority religious beliefs
Many of us are fully assimilated; marry outside our religion; feel and look WASPier than the biggest WASP. But there’s always one moment when something happens that reminds us that other people view us as different. I know that most people are rational; that most people don’t believe this. (Did a Google “ACLU” “Christmas” search and this was the number one document.)
According to ACLU “Christmas haters” everyting refering to Christ inpublic has to go. But try as they might, they can’t take the spirit out of Christmas, something this group is in dire need of. Boy talk about selfishness
Yes let’s talk about being selfish; selfish is the same woman saying the following.
The Constitution can be read front to back, sideways, upside down, and nowhere does it read there needs to be a separation of church and state. Good grief! The framers would have been very dense or dumber than a box of rocks, to put separation of church and state in the most “intentionally” misunderstood document, and then proceeded to have a nation built on God and in every aspect of their lives
Good grief, indeed. If this is true then I have to not only be grateful to you, but bow down to your religious superiority, and that is where I draw the line.
Just understand that we’re not your problem. You are. If a person can find G-d in a concentration camp, any American can find G-d anywhere. It’s up to you to put Christ back in Christmas, not us.
I could never celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. Why? It is the symbolic observation of Christ’s birthday no matter how you look at it. But selfishly I want you to celebrate it so that I can see the trees, lights, decorations and even go to some Christmas parties. That’s right; Christmas parties at peoples homes. Every other year my friends make an Italian feast in their Tudor house in Forest Hills Gardens, a picture perfect Ives & Currier Christmas community. It’s wonderful, but I will never have a Christmas dinner in my apartment.
Merry Christmas; Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solistice. I will call this season whatever you want me to call it as long as The First Amendment remains intact. And I will always be grateful to the USA for allowing my family to live as full citizens for over a century. Grateful but I will never feel less an American than you do. And I thank G-d for organizations like the ACLU that make sure I will always be a full American.