Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Season to You!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is Silvio DeAngelo speaking before the City Council December 7, 2009. He was complaining about the use of the phrase, "Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

His argument seems to follow the talk radio diatribe pushing a religious agenda on society.

Then today, over on Heath Haussamen’s site Michael Swickard, Ph.D. in his routine column takes up the issue in a post entitled, “The majority of Americans overruled by a minority.”

“The America of my youth was without doubt a Christian nation,” Swickard writes. It also was a nation that still practiced racial inequities in the name of being a Christian nation. We’ve changed a lot of things in Swickard’s lifetime. We have plenty of more things to still change.

Maybe Mohandas Gandhi put it best:
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
At the moment the majority is still the majority in a number of categories; there’re a few that continue to change. Some in the majority find reason to fear such changes. Nothing prohibits the majority from sending their elected representatives to the seats of government based on common beliefs, as long as they don’t violate the minorities right to exist in the same manner.

DeAngelo and Swickard are intelligent men who often argue legally complex issues with great aplomb. However, they both seem challenged by the paradoxical nature of the initial two sections of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
Thomas Jefferson’s powerful statement in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence holds the key:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
“…(E)ndowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” The most basic civil right is that of individual thoughts and beliefs.

Unalienable Rights, means you can’t take rights away from somebody or impose your ideas onto someone else.

Jefferson invoked the Creator; that makes it even more contradictory.

It is not a minority overruling the majority, it’s the majority acknowledging and assuring the minority’s equal place in our country.

It is simple, government may not endorse any religion, no matter how many people in this country believe in it. At the same time, government cannot prohibit anyone from practicing their own beliefs.

Individuals may pray or make religious reference all they like. However, individuals may not get the government to allow them to pray or make religious reference in any of their institutions. In other words you can't get government to make others pray or place them in situations where prayer takes place.

"In God We Trust," on money or over the rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives are just examples of pure religious arrogance in defiance of the core principle of the First Amendment.

In the Great Hall of the U. S. Supreme Court the Ten Commandments are not spelled out, but referenced in the frieze over the Chief Justice's seat.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing; it's just my on line season's greeting card.

It is a pottery window arrangement in a Santa Fe shop of a seasonal display, next to it was a carved nativity scene in the Santo’s style.

So I expect my governments, in recognition of the probability that just about everybody’s belief system has some winter event of note, to say “Happy Holidays” and at the same time will accept the particular greeting from any individual’s particular belief or religious system.

This was the sunrise on the 21st, the winter solstice, the sun farthest south in the sky, the shortest day of the year, for those to whom it is important.

The tolerance to accept all beliefs and expressions is what makes this country so special and unique.

So to all; The Season… and to Silvio, Merry Christmas!

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