Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas is a Secular Holiday, Says O'Reilly; Update

In a rant about the "secularization" of Christmas -- an attack on the use of "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" in stores -- which apparently offends "Christian America," Bill O'Reilly defines what Christmas is. (Via Atrios).
Here you have a national public holiday signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. Christmas, all right? Federal holiday, everybody gets off, no mail delivered, everybody shuts down. Federal holiday*. Why is it there? To honor a philosopher, Jesus. Whose philosophy was part of the foundation of our country. All of this is indisputable. Can't dispute it. OK? A man was born, his name is Jesus, he had a philosophy, the philosophy was incorporated by the Founding Fathers to make up the United States of America, U.S. Grant signs into law the holiday, Christmas.

[Emphasis added]

According to O'Reilly, Christmas in America has nothing to do with a religion or the divinity of Christ; three Wise Men were not lead by a star to the manger wherein Jesus slept; angels did not tell Mary or the shepherds in the fields anything at all; Jesus was the product of normal sexual relations between two human beings.

In other words, he is upset that what he calls a secular holiday is being secularized.

But wait, I'm not done challenging O'Reilly's argument.

Christmas is a Federal Holiday, all right? It was signed into law to be recognized by employers on December 25 of every year. Yet O'Reilly would have the holiday be recognized for over a month, rather on one single day. Is December 1 Christmas? No. Then why must a person say "Merry Christmas" when it isn't even Christmas? Last year, Hanukkah began on December 8. Why would any sane person say "Merry Christmas" on Hanukkah? It's Hanukkah! Sometimes Ramadan falls in the time period that O'Reilly would pressure people to say "Merry Christmas." It's ridiculous to say "Merry Christmas" to a Muslim celebrating Ramadan on a day that is Ramadan but isn't Christmas.

But that's what Christmas is all about -- bullying people into telling other people to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

*It was one of a few holidays created for the District of Columbia, as D.C. is not a state -- wherein these holidays already existed -- and its residents and employees were getting short shrift when it came to days off.

Update: I forgot another reason besides inclusion that retailers might want to have "Happy Holidays" signs rather than "Merry Christmas" signs.

Christmas ends December 25, but the holiday season continues. There is always the New Year, and this year, Hanukkah begins on December 25. If everything were "Merry Christmas," then retailers would either have to leave up the "Merry Christmas" signs or take them down, thus completely missing Hanukkah and the New Year, or they'd have to switch out all the signs for "Happy Holidays," costing themselves more in materials and labor.

O'Reilly's idea is that approximately six weeks that contain different celebrations by three major religions and more minor ones -- as well as non-religions -- belongs to one group only. All other groups must not only bow to the majority, but take positive action to acknowledge, exclusively, the majority's celebration, while having their own celebrations ignored.

Such a sentiment is a greedy, exclusionary, unfriendly, ungenerous sentiment that is out of place for people claiming to be Christians celebrating Christmas.

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