Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Obamas Homogenize the Holidays

Pres. Obama is minimizing Chanuka and miniaturizing Christmas because he wants to religiously homogenize the world.  A New York Times piece about social secretary Desiree Rogers includes her reference to the first couples' desire for a "non-religious Christmas," to many minds an oxymoron.  Apparently there was debate about displaying the terra cotta and wood White House creche, an 18th Century carved wood gift from Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard, Jr. that's been on display in the East Room every Christmas since 1967.

As an aside...I've attended two Bush White House Chanuka parties, and the creche (left) was discretely removed for the occasions. The souvenir booklet about the White House given guests, however, describes it.  I doubt Jewish visitors would have disapproved of the nativity scene any more than the Christmas trees that filled every room, but the sensitivity was noted.

Is it that same sensitivity that drives Pres. Obama to want to make his first White House Christmas "non-religious"?  Or, is it a more disturbing agenda?

I maintain that this is a small step that figures neatly in his broader plan.

Pres. Obama was raised in a Muslim milieu, even if he was not actively Muslim, and he knows that the Peace Prize he’s junketing to Oslo to pick up is predicated on his trying to build a religiously neutral world. Despite his 20 years in the congregation of Rev. Wright, the point of which was to build up his cred in the black community, I doubt he believes Jesus is his savior. I'd say he thinks this holiday is an American tradition, and if he were to ignore it, he’d alienate a lot of people.

With a somewhat megalomaniacal desire to better humanity according to his personal world-view, his underlying purpose is to homogenize just about everyone and everything. Rich and poor must be equalized. Male and female, ditto. America and other nations, ditto. He’s taking it in steps: first downplay the holidays (even the celebrations of his most strident supporters) and ultimately make “The Season” a Unicef Card, with paz, pasques, peace, shalom, and the Arab equivalent floating equally around a scene of an arm-linked circle of people of many colors.

Social Secretary Desiree Rogers calls it the Obamas' "philosophy" of being "inclusive, diverse, representative of all Americans, celebratory, authentic."  But at Christmas time, "representing all Americans" is not "authentic."  Our nation was founded by and is populated mostly by Christians.  In 2009, 75% of Americans say they're Christian.  That figure is down ten percent from 1990, but pundits speculate that's because it's now more OK to tell a pollster "no religion" than it used to be, not because the panoply of religions in the nation has expanded.

This time of year, Jewish publications are filled with advice on resisting the Christmas flavor around us.  Truth is, Chanuka carries exactly that theme--Jews who embrace their religion know that the underlying message is loyalty to the Torah; the Festival of Lights celebrates the restoration of the Holy Temple to its traditional role in 165 B.C.E., in defiance of those who would assimilate into the Hellenistic culture. Anyone secure in his Judaism isn't threatened by a benign American Christian culture, and in fact our family appreciates the holiday lights, happy caroling, and the air of conviviality and charity that circulates in shopping centers and with the tinkle of the Salvation Army bell at the entrance of our grocery store.

We wish our neighbors Merry Christmas, and we wish the Obamas could do the same.


  1. Hey…… It’s been a while. Yes, I’ve missed you too. I just have to jump in here to say that yes, Christmas is in fact “an American tradition.” And in many other counties as well. But don’t you agree that there are many religious traditions in the world, and do you think that any one of them should be privileged over the rest? If so, why? And if not, then how to level the playing field? It seems to me that the religions with the biggest political clout would be the ones that complain the most. They have the most to lose. Hence, the whining from certain quarters…

    And which is more megalomaniacal, the desire to give equal voice to the many belief systems, or the desire to enforce the primacy of the status quo? Should the whole world be Christian? Whose version? Should it be Jewish? Again, whose version? Or any of the other thousands of beliefs? There is only one way out of this contradictory mess – let all flowers bloom and see how the petals fall. And in so doing, some will have to lose their status.

    It is no secret that before the “discovery” of America the continent was populated with people who had never heard of Jesus or Yahweh. This so called “Christian Country” became that way by force of arms. But many of us are not of that ilk, we do not believe in supernatural orchestrations of reality.

    When Obama gave his inaugural address he mentioned non-believers. I was stunned. Finally. Americans are proud of the separation of church and state, at least some of us are. But the only way for that to be a reality is for the state to be atheistic. As soon as you swear in leaders on whatever bible they choose the state has now embraced religion. So what Obama is doing is actually a constructive beginning to a democratic future. Remember what democracy means, and then remember that when god – anybody’s god – makes a commandment there is no democracy involved. Religion is a totalitarian regime.

    I think it’s time we saw past our historical blinders, crawled out of our mythological caves, stopped being afraid of the dark, and took a big step forward into enlightenment. Don’t you?

  2. Thoughtful comment, Jim. Seems you'd prefer no recognition of Christmas, right? My point is that if it's recognized--and surely most citizens think it should be--then take it for what it is, a religious occasion. I personally think our national spirit is uplifted by it, whether individuals choose to celebrate or not.

  3. I didn’t say that, did I? As an atheist I enjoy Christmas. People get together to share their lives and exchange feelings of good will. What we are suggesting is that Christianity be awarded the same weight as Wicca, Hinduism, Buddhism, Lakota spirituality, and all the rest. That’s okay, isn’t it?

  4. I read and re-read Jim's comment...I also thought you were saying you would prefer no recognition of Christmas, Jim. It is interesting to see the multiple religions in our country recognized. When in history have people felt so free or affirmed in their various faiths - or non-faiths? We are a religious Christan family, but have no issue with the Atheist sign advertisements on the bus billboards. Why not? (Time for the cliche "It's a free country.") Perhaps there is not so much a lack of recogniztion but just more people that align with a general historical and culturally Christan-viewpoint. Remembering from whence we came is not inserting religion into government.

  5. Jim, mentioning non-believers in a speech has little to do with separation of church and state and the concept of separation of church and state also has little to do with American government, its a secular construct as it's popular understood today (meaning no public religious expression or endorsement by the government). The 1st amendment simply was meant to aviod the establishment of a single state church like people had in Europe. Read Fisher Ames (who wrote the 1st amendment) in Palladium magazine, 1801. His article defending the use of the bible in schools is quite informative with respect to a proper understanding of the original constitutional intent of the amendment.

    If you actually look at governments around the world throughout history, only some of them actually were/are hostile to non-believers. The 'embrace' of a religion by a government does not necessarily lead to religious discrimination. The founders understood this, but it is a popular misconception today.