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Sound Off: Holiday greeting not courageous

By Patricia Kuenzi

After reading Ellie Peck’s letter regarding what “courage” it took for the Whidbey News-Times to broadcast the “Merry Christmas” message, my initial response was to let the ignorance and stupidity of the sentiment stand. It was the Christmas season, and all that. But, then, I thought, no! We have an election year coming up, and if we have any chance at all as a nation, each and every incident of ignorance and stupidity voiced must be actively challenged!

I would like to make clear, first, that I have no problem with the “Merry Christmas” wish — I’m a Christian myself, and say it repeatedly every year, despite the extreme amount of “courage” it apparently takes to voice the holiday greeting of the overwhelming majority of citizens of our country.

What I do have a problem with is the ignorant and stupid idea that it takes any sort of “courage” at all for a private business, or a private person, to express such a wish. It takes absolutely none. Zero. Zilch. Every person and every private entity is free to express whatever greeting they happen to ascribe to. Perhaps it might not have made a lot of business sense to take a chance on alienating non-Christians reading the paper by confining the greeting to those of that particular faith, but, then again, I think the News-Times probably knew it was taking no chance at all. Capturing the allegiance of the “war on Christmas” crowd was simple, just as it was safe to rely on the goodwill of men and women of other faiths (or none) who are also celebrating at this time of year. Those non-Christians seem to be much more reliably open-minded than the majority. They are used to having their holidays relegated to second, third, or fourth class status, or ignored altogether. They probably see the “happy holidays” message of most businesses and retail outlets for what it actually is — a cynical attempt to have persons of all faiths (or none) come on in and spend their money in the same sort of secular orgy of consumption that Christians can be reliably counted upon to engage in at this time of year, in order to boost the corporate bottom line.

I have never, ever, not even once, in my 50-plus years as a member of the U.S. Christian uber-majority, been chastised or in any way punished, shunned, insulted, or taken-umbrage-at for saying “Merry Christmas.” I seriously doubt anyone of the “war on Christmas” ilk has, either. On the other hand, I can think of several instances in the recent past, since this ignorant and stupid nonsense has taken hold, when businesses and organizations who have chosen not to toe the “Christian” line at this multi-celebrated time of year have been the subject of much public insult, castigation, and organized boycotting on the part of beleagured American “Christians.”

What I also have a problem with is the ignorant and stupid idea that our government should involve itself in promoting our particular religion, despite the clear wording of our Constitution that our government is to neither establish, nor prevent the free exercise of, ANY religion. If someone’s faith is so tenuous that, even though that faith is held by the vast majority of citizens, they need the government to enforce the celebration of it, and force the repression of the celebrations of those whose faiths differ, then perhaps that faith is misplaced. Or serously mis-informed, or corrupt.

What a wonderful bunch of Christian taliban we would be were we not constrained by that pesky little Constitution — which is the reason we have it in the first place. It was not other faiths, after all, that Christians came here to seek freedom from — it was the tyranny of some of our own!

Patricia Kuenzi

lives in Oak Harbor.

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