Until now, I’ve been content to let Sarah Palin have her say, as befuddled as it may be, because I’m a firm believer in the “give a person enough rope” theory. Besides, I’d rather not provide her with any additional publicity…the less she trends, the better in my book. But speaking of books, she has a new one she’s been hawking, wherein she drops the alleged War on Christmas squarely in my lap. So much for minding my own business…
Ms. Palin says it’s “angry atheists” who are attempting to “abort Christ from Christmas” (kudos on the inflammatory rhetoric, by the way – be sure and give your speech writers a little something extra in their stockings). Aww, Sarah…does this mean you won’t be dropping by to help me put up my Festivus pole this year? That’s too bad, because I have some grievances to air.
I think her aim is a little off – it’s not atheists she should be railing against, it’s the Constitution. You know, that whole “separation of church and state” thing. Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion… Funny, isn’t it – the Constitution’s a wonderful thing, until it’s not. Call me a stickler for details, but you guys can’t have it both ways – if you’re going to get all pissy and hard-line on the interpretation of the Second Amendment, then don’t try to get a little fuzzy when it comes to interpreting the First. No one is telling you how to celebrate your holiday. What we’re saying is, don’t assume the rest of us want to celebrate yours, too. Honestly, though, we’ve covered all this ground before. The “War on Christmas” is just a more vocal reboot of “Keep Christ in Christmas,” giving you one more opportunity to run all your religious beefs up the flagpole. How many times are we going to have this conversation? Look, we’ll make you a deal – you lay off of prayer in school and nativity scenes in public buildings and we won’t go after the logo on the currency.
But where Sarah really stepped in it this time was her shout-out to Thomas Jefferson. In a speech during her book tour a few days ago, she made some typically muddled comments that appeared to be targeting the godless heathens who, as we all know, won’t rest until every shred of religious dogma is stripped from Christmas celebrations. That’s when she noted that our third President (were he alive today) “…would recognize those who would want to try to ignore that Jesus is the reason for the season…I think Thomas Jefferson would recognize it and stand up and he wouldn’t let anybody tell him to sit down and shut up.”
In her defense, the fog of war can be disorienting, making it difficult to tell friend from foe. But next time she should probably spend a few minutes on Wikipedia before picking her allies. While Jefferson was impressed with Jesus’ humanitarian side, he was quick to discount the superstitions and mysticism tied to Christianity – things like the virgin birth, walking on water, rising from the dead, what he saw as going against “natural law.” Furthermore, he was one of the most vocal proponents for building a “wall” (as he put it) between church and state. And in his autobiography, he writes of the time when, while constructing the preamble to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom, a reference to “Jesus Christ” was removed because “…they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo [sic] and Infidel of every denomination.” So don’t be hating on the Infidels, Sarah…your boy TJ certainly wasn’t.
I’ve got news for you – I celebrate Christmas, even though I don’t believe in it’s central figure. Growing up in America, and in my case a Lutheran household, it was never even questioned as a child. Christmas just was. As I grew older and made my own decision about Jesus, I found that, like Jefferson, I could appreciate the moral lessons laid down in his teachings, but the rest, not so much. Still, I continued to celebrate Christmas for several reasons – my children, mostly, and the spirit of giving, and because I associated it with family and happy times, thanks to those early memories. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps, but I like to think of it as a sign of tolerance (maybe you’ve seen our bumper stickers). Yes, there’s always Festivus, but no one seems all that interested in wrestling right after a big meal.
Just for the record, Sarah, some of my best friends are Christians. And when they wish me a “Merry Christmas” it never comes to blows. And in the spirit of the season, I even got you a little something…a trip to our nation’s capital. I’ll meet you at the Jefferson Memorial.
Sincerely, Joe McScrooge.