By Stan Welch
Christmas, that most traditional of times, is roaring down upon us once again. By the time this column is published, Christmas will be a mere two weeks away.
This year, there has been a pretty loud ruckus kicked up in various quarters, protesting the use of the politically correct phrase Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Personally, I never took the use of the Happy Holidays phrase as being anti-Christian. I just took it to be easier than saying Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
But that’s just me. Apparently it offends a lot of folks, and became especially offensive in the last few years when stores and retailers and other entities began specifically curtailing the use of the phrase Merry Christmas.
I think part of it comes from the fact that Christians feel put upon lately. Muslims seem to be getting a great deal of attention, and some would argue, preferential treatment. Government policies like Obamacare, that attempt to force businesses and other groups that oppose abortion and gay marriage on religious grounds, to provide unprecedented benefits and advantages to those employees, have raised people’s hackles, and spurred several court challenges.
The American tradition of freedom of religion, which is an established principle of law in very few other countries, has come to be seen by many as freedom from religion. Personally, that’s all well and good to me. The two seem to go hand in hand. If one person is free to believe, then another should be free not to.
But the government shouldn’t be actively engaged in setting boundaries and imposing policies that favor one side over the other. For the government to tell the Catholic Church, or any other church, that they have to pay for abortion coverage for its female employees, or to provide contraception for females, or to provide coverage for gay couples in contradiction to the church’s position on such marriages is an intrusion that more and more people are refusing to accept.
Two corporations, family owned and faith based, are currently challenging the government’s right to force them to provide benefits for their employees that directly contradict their faith and their company’s policies. These lawsuits are about to be handed to the Supreme Court for consideration, in the midst of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare.
The movement within the military to reduce or eradicate the role of religion has led to morale issues and the expression of real concerns from those higher in the command structure. The old saying about there being no atheists in a foxhole seems to be on the verge of being erased.
But let us not forget that, like Christmas, intrusive, oppressive government has a long history as well. Weren’t Joseph and Mary traveling to Jerusalem to be listed in the census so that they could be taxed? Wasn’t that the mission that put them on the road through Bethlehem?
Perhaps, in this most traditional of times, a new tradition can be born. Perhaps a tradition of easing government out of our lives, and into its more proper role, can be begun. What a wonderful gift that would be.