Friday, December 2

Bah, Humbug!

Excuse the rant.

While there are many things to love about this time of year (finally, some decent weather, the beginning of ski season, a general feeling of camaraderie with fellow Great Falls residents, etc.), December always brings me to something of a funk.

Why? Because it is during December that so many of our public institutions go out of their way to hammer home a Christian message throughout this month.

I don't care what private individuals and organizations do. I think it is actually very nice that they show their faith as loudly and proudly as they can. However, I suggest to you that displays of faith are inappropriate for public institutions (school districts, city and county government, etc.)

What rises my ire? Let me count the ways.

School holiday/Christmas programs. These are a particular joy. Nothing better than a teacher giving my child songs to sing about the birth of the baby savior. I have a wonderful Faustian choice; either tell my child that she cannot perform a song that I find offensive (and make her upset that she cannot perform a song that her entire class has been practicing for at least two months, subject her to difficult questions from her classmates, etc.) or sit through the horrid thing and keep my mouth shut, wincing the whole time. UGH.

School holiday schedules. Is it just me, or is there more celebrating than learning during the month of December in our schools? I want my children to enjoy school, but it seems to me that there is just too much emphasis on the Holidays, and not enough on the curriculum.

Government displays of faith. I really couldn't care less about Christmas trees. Let everyone have their tree. I am not excited by a decorated tree, but I don't find it offensive. What does offend me are manger scenes on government property (like the scene in front of the civic center.)

To me, these scenes have no other purpose than to say that I am not a full participant in this society. Excuse me, but I am. I am as much a citizen of these United States as any Christian.

I am not looking for equal time here. I do not want to see a menorah or a shofar in front of the Civic Center or County Courthouse. I want my government to stay out of religion. Period.

OK, the rant is over now. I can go back to saying nice things, for at least a little bit.

5 comments:

a-fire-fly said...

I have actually been waiting for your take on this. I agree it is not fair to to you or your child to have such a Christian influence in schools. Children should not be put in this position.
I personally feel the entire period between Thanksgiving and X-mas is virtually wasted in schools. I know several teachers who, through no fault of their own, feel the same.
Separation of church & state. Good thing.
Just out of curiosity, what is your opinion of the Ten Commandments of gov't property?

Treasure State Jew said...

Firefly;

Thanks!

As for the Ten Commandments, I don't have a "blanket" opionion as to whether it should be allowed or not.

I think that the purpose and history of the display should be considered. If a display of the Ten Commandments is surrounded by other examples of ancient law (such as the Code of Hammurabi), then I think that the display could be considered an homage or interpretive display on the history of law. Not only do I have no problem with that kind of display, I encourage it!

However, if a display is put in front of a courthouse as a display of faith, it is not appropriate. Intent can be gleaned from many sources, including commission minutes.

As an aside, the Ten Commandments display in front of the Cascade County courthouse has an interesting history. As best as I can figure, that display was placed there by the Masons, but paid for as advertising for the movie The Ten Commandments!

Mike said...

Rant? What rant? I was going to keep my opinions of the upcoming "holiday" season to myself but you've inspired me to put a little something together on the subject. I'll have to bring in Rachel to help with the editing so I don't go off the deep end, rhetorically speaking :-)

As for the "10 Commandments" if the folks who keep bastardizing our collective "Judaeo-Christian" heritage were really honest with themselves, and stopped insulting the intelligence of Judaeo portion of their pseudo hyphenation, they would know there are not merely 10 but 613 Commandments. Post all 613, or leave them the hell off any public building.

Good Shabbos.

Sarpy Sam said...

I don't know why you want to excuse the rant, the schools get nothing accomplished this whole month, even in high school, and it is ridiculous. This is one of the many reasons I home school some of my kids so we can get something accomplished instead of just marking time like the public school system.

I've never had the problem with school programs since I am a Christian but I am glad you bring it up, it really makes me think what I would do in a similar situation. I don't know but it sure points out your conundrum.

Thanks for the post, makes a person consider things.

GeeGuy said...

I'm going to try to say this without sounding to edgy, because I really enjoy most of what you type. And I know it is your deeply felt religious belief and means a great deal to you.

But, that being said, I believe that Christmas has become so secularized that the rest of us all just need to lighten up!

I am neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor African American but somehow Christmas Carols, the Hannukah song, and the Kwaanza song don't really bother me all that much. They're little kids singing songs. Christmas is about love, family, fellowship, and happiness. I find it very difficult to take offense at that, even if a majority of our fellow citizens also believe it to be symbolic of the birth of their savior.