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The Queen's Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle 1848.  First photo of a royal's Christmas tree appearing in newsprint.
Pagans, the lot of you.
The War on the War on Christmas continues to trundle merrily along, fueled mostly by dumb and easily offended people:
A Texas state representative pre-filed legislation that would allow public school officials to use “traditional winter greetings” such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” on school grounds.

The “Merry Christmas Bill” would grant “the right to celebrate on school property with displays associated with those holidays, including Menorahs, Christmas trees and Nativity scenes.”

Unless they're willing to also defend the right of Satanists and Flying Spaghetti Monster adherents to put up similar displays, shut up. Yes, it is a tragedy that this whole separation of church and state thing means we cannot put up monuments to the baby Jesus on our children's school grounds (no word on whether the baby Jesus would be armed; if not, I expect the NRA will be piping up with yet another press conference about that).

Rep. Bohac apparently came up with the idea because he was miffed that his child's classroom was putting up a "holiday tree," instead of a "Christmas tree"; this, in turn, was terminology adopted because the school was "fearful of litigation," which pretty much lumps the whole thing in as a case study in how there is absolutely no damn way to not offend people when a good portion of the country spends their days actively looking for things to be offended about. Yes, it's a Christmas tree, you're not fooling anyone. No, that does not mean you ought to put Nativity scenes on the football field.

So if the parents of Muslim students want a Muslim display during their holidays, do they get it? Or would all of Republican Texas melt down in a puddle of self-righteous outrage about how those people are trying to indoctrinate their kids? The problem with the demands for religion in the public square is, still, that people like Mr. Bohac only mean certain religions. Hard-right Christianity is presumed to be the only true form; Judaism is begrudgingly tolerated as the thing that proves how terribly inclusive the Christian folks are; naughty socialist Christianity (the kind about tolerating people, caring for the sick and so on) is only tolerated if they pipe down on the naughty socialist parts and just yell Merry Jesus Day at folks; Islam is right out—they're not even allowed to have their own places of worship on their own property without having the good religious Christian folks mount national offensives against them. Hinduism is considered indistinguishable from Islam because all brown people look alike; everything else is pretty much just blanket Satanism. Am I missing any nuance there?

On a week like this, these things just seem especially petty and stupid. Since I am fairly certain that schools instituting, for example, the "traditional" Muslim prayer times for Muslim students would be met with actual gunfire from the good and virtuous Christian parents in Bohac's district, and since I can't even imagine what would happen if America's atheists were granted a school assembly to explain why each specific religion is, in their view, a mountain of horse crap, we should probably just continue the policy of keeping our personal religions and our shared public spaces just a wee bit apart, at least for the time being. When Muslim Americans in New York or Tennessee or California can build a mosque without a good chunk of America mobilizing in opposition to their religion, or when America's various religious crazy people aren't walking into each other's churches to shoot at people or burn things down because of disputes over who God wants killed and in what order, we can revisit.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's past time to tax the churches (41+ / 0-)

    They've mddled in politics far too long without consequences.   They don't pay a dime in federal, sales, or property taxes yet use all the services that tax money is used for.

    Yeah, off topic, butI just had to say it.  And, yes, I am a Christian, but I keep my nose in the New Testament unlike so many who troll the Old Testament to justify their bigotry and misogyny.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:04:23 PM PST

    •  Exactly (11+ / 0-)

      Tax exemption for some religious organizations violates the Constitution, which does not allow Congress to pass laws respecting the establishment of a religion. And why do only some religions get a tax exemption and not others?

      "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

      by US Blues on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:13:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And the USSC gave The Good News Clubs access to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Puddytat, BlackSheep1, Eric Nelson

      public school buildings to evangelize to public elementary school children on the public dole. That decision was handed down in 2001.

    •  Hi Puddytat. (4+ / 0-)

      I am an atheist.

      My mother was the most non-judgmental, understanding and generous person I have ever known. She believed in the teachings of Jesus.

      I would like to remind all of the people who preach death destruction hellfire and damnation that there were not any Christians in the Old Testament.

      •  They don't think that part of the constitution (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        howabout, NonnyO, Eric Nelson

        applies to them. Besides, they answer to a "higher authority." They are the American Taliban.

        the Republican brand is totally bankrupt.

        by vlyons on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:31:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I pointed out my religion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        howabout

        to prevent the inevitable comment that only those without religion believe that churches should be taxed.  In my opinion, Athiests, Buddists, Muslims, and everyone else are all my brothers and sisters and equally loved by God and equally welcome.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:23:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Puddytat

          I understood that. I think my Mother would like you a lot.

          She would agree that most churches should be taxed.

          I say most because she believed in that little church in the wildwood where one communed with nature and God and everybody was welcome.

          •  I'd like to find that little church (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            howabout

            Frankly, I left the church I belonged to because it was a victim of RW takeover and politics were preached rather than the Gospels.  Finding one not overtaken by RW zealots takes far too much time - particularly these days.

            There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

            by Puddytat on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:19:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  As a fellow Christian I heartily agree (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, Puddytat, NonnyO, BYw

      Imagine the tax revenue from the Roman Catholic Church alone! I daresay taxing them would solve our tax problems for a loooooong time.

      Beware of darkness. -- G. Harrison

      by JoeyTheLemur on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:10:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just me but (0+ / 0-)

      Taxing churches would not do a thing to stop this kind of idiocy.  In fact it would just fuel the fire for more of the same.  IMHO, it would be far better to tax political parties.  After all they are the ones who raise money off these kinds of phony non-issues.
      Furthermore, the intolerance is not about the church or the teachings of Christ.  It's about politicians who are trying to use the intolerance of others for political gain, i.e. votes.

      Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

      by Tx LIberal on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:30:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Taxes wouldn't stop them at all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DSPS owl, BYw

        but would provide needed revenue for state, local and federal governments.  They were given tax exempt status in exchange for their agreement to stay out of politics.  They didn't keep their part of the bargain so why should the government.  

        In fact, they should, to every extent possible, pay retroactive taxes for all those years they missed.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:26:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Problem with that idea is (0+ / 0-)

          Most churches, at least the ones I know, are having enough trouble paying the bills.  Taxing them would only mean less money for the good things most churches do, like to helping the poor and sick.  Every heard of charity hospitals?  Many of them are church supported.  They don't base who they care for on what religion they belong to.  
          Of course I wouldn't go to one who believed that governmental policy is a religious concern in the first place.
          But if the idea is to stop "churches" from interfering in government, it would be much better to punish political parties who are mostly promoting this.  And if they have the money to spend millions on political ads, they have the money to pay taxes on the funds they raise.

          Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

          by Tx LIberal on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:47:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Those churches would owe nothing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DSPS owl, Tx LIberal, BYw

            just like those on very limited incomes pay nothing.  I'm all for going after Pat Robertsons billion dollars and the megabucks of the very loud and loathsome that grift off religion.  

            They're in for a big surprise when they meet Jesus at the pearly gates.  He despised people who made money off religion.  In fact, he might just despise them twice because the only other group that he didn't tolerate were the Pharisees for their false public pretense of extreme righteousness and piety.

            There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

            by Puddytat on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:17:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Have to agree there but (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Puddytat

              I don't consider Robertson or the 700 club a church by any stretch of the imagination.  Of course, I'm not much on "TeeVee" evangelism in the first place.  There are a few exceptions, but not many.  Too many spend most of their time either putting on a show or criticizing others they disagree with politically.  It has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ.  To me that kind of self-righteous showmanship is one thing real churches don't need right now or any other time for that matter.

              Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

              by Tx LIberal on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:51:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Ahem. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, Eric Nelson
      And, yes, I am a Christian, but I keep my nose in the New Testament unlike so many who troll the Old Testament to justify their bigotry and misogyny.
      Speaking as a Jew, I'd ... like to just stand here for a second with a meaningful look and ask you to reread that please.
      •  Wasn't meant to be Anti-Semetic and I (0+ / 0-)

        hope it wasn't taken that way.  However, you should know that I'm not saying anything new.  Most folks are aware of how the RW Christians misuse the Old Testament by snagging a few words here and there.

        They look to the old rules in Leviticus about homosexuality, intolerance, sexual activity, and the "rightful place of women".  They don't look at the Talmud or Old Testament as a whole, but, as I said, troll for a phrase to justify their actions and beliefs.  That is much different from the way the Old Testament was meant to be used.

        I read the Old Testament as it should be read - in it's entirty and not used to gather a bit here and there.  Mostly, though, I read the instructions given in the Gospels and later defined in the epistles.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:51:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, that's all true. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Puddytat

          And no, let me reassure you, I didn't take it as anti-Semitic.

          I am perhaps a bit sensitive, though, about the entirely-too-common notion that all the harshness in the Bible is Old Testament and all the mercy and kindness is New Testament.  I do get that that wasn't quite what you were saying.

          (And yes, it is deeply irksome how many Christians cherrypick Leviticus.  If you're totally okay with eating ham and wearing mixed wool and linen, seriously, either shut up about the gay or cite it from somewhere else.)

    •  Actually, I think it's time to tax ALL religious (0+ / 0-)

      institutiuons, period.

  •  What I find frightening is that... (8+ / 0-)

    If this gets up to the supremes... I'd fully expect a 5-4 decision in favor of the law...

    because it doesn't MANDATE it.  Just allows it.  (Never mind that it just goes back to the whole "Christian Nation" bullshit)

    sigh...

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:06:36 PM PST

    •  You might be right, but... (0+ / 0-)

      ... the problem with the law is that it allows schools to pick and choose which religious practices are allowed in the school. That's a de facto establishment of religion. One problem with religion in school is that "optional" winds up looking an awful lot like "mandatory". And the diarist is right, if Muslim activities were included, the reaction would likely be pretty hostile.

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:38:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You forgot the Sikhs (10+ / 0-)

    They did get shot at for being, you know, not foamingly Christian or something.

    "I'm up on a tightrope/One side's hate and one is hope" --Leon Russell

    by turdraker on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:06:45 PM PST

  •  merry Church and State separation everyone! (21+ / 0-)

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:07:31 PM PST

    •  That is fantastic! What is it? nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, BlackSheep1, Eric Nelson

      When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

      by msmacgyver on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:51:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  one of them shake your buddhist moments (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        msmacgyver, turdraker
        Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
        — Exodus 20:4-6 (KJV)

        yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

        by annieli on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 04:39:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I live in TX (12+ / 0-)

    and work in public schools. I haven't been paying a whole lot of attention to decorations in the past couple of weeks (too busy!), but at least one campus I serve had a cheery display in the office with huge construction-paper words "Merry Christmas". So I'm not sure why Rep. Bohac thinks this is forbidden in schools.

    Will this bill allow us to bring back Halloween? That's a dirty word in the schools now too. Apparently there are some religious nuts who think Halloween is evil. So all the rest of the kids no longer get to celebrate this fun, secular time with costumes, candy, and games at school, like we did when I was growing up.

    •  Sadness. Halloween is actually my favorite (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leap Year, unclebucky, kyril, Eric Nelson, BYw

      holiday.  Far too many store bought costumes, or often no costume at all, but here and there, well thought out, carefully constructed and technically dazzling ones.  My favorites over the years among older folks included a guy wandering down the street with a working organ grinder (no monkey with him, though), and a pack of teens with a Great Dane, with them all done up as the characters from Scooby Doo.  This year's winner among the younger set was a really well done amateur Mad Hatter via the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland.

      A good reminder that if I'm going to work on giving out something kids will like that isn't full of sugar next year, though, I need to start thinking about it now...

    •  That's got more to do with (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, BlackSheep1, A Citizen, BYw

      diaper-sniffing yuppie parent fear than Christian whackjobs.

      Never mind the fact that there isn't a single documented case of a child being poisoned by trick-or-treat candy... ever. It's literally never happened, but we get subjected to the same scare stories on the local news every year... "Make sure to check your kid's candy! Don't trick-or-treat outside your neighborhood! Be afraid!" Of course, if you have the balls to mention the fact that the whole thing is a myth, you'll get some pretty horrified looks, and much gasping and pearl clutching will ensue.

      --Shannon

      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:00:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I don't mean (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, A Citizen

        the cancellation of home-based trick-or-treating, though lots of parents here have fallen into that too - I mean the cancellation of school-based Halloween activities, which are undoubtably safe. It really is religious nuts around here who object to anything Halloween-related at school (and they certainly don't do the costumes and trick-or-treating at home - they take their kids to church that evening instead).

    •  Hm. What about having a "fancy dress" party? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

      by unclebucky on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:05:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kabuki (7+ / 0-)

    It will get shot to ribbons by the courts and then this yahoo will run for re-election with his "bravery" as a central theme. He probably knows that. Just play-acting.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:08:53 PM PST

  •  weak faith (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, roadbear, kyril

    Anyone imbued with true faith would not be afraid of a holiday tree. A person whose faith is weak, who is insecure or doubtful about their beliefs, would act out neurotically and attempt to remove any external message which questions their worldview. Rep. Bohac is demonstrating just such fear, which is internal, but as is often the case, being projected external.

    Besides, anyone who follows the genuine teachings of Yeshua would be tolerant and understanding of folks on differing paths.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:10:54 PM PST

  •  I could ALMOST, not quite, see it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, kyril

    . . . if there was some kind of kerfuffle about disallowing any sort of tree-based decoration, regardless of nomenclature. I wouldn't necessarily agree with the whole deal (and no way in hell would I agree with what they're actually trying to do as it stands), but I could at least fathom the impetus that would lead to such a thing.

    But this? The only term that comes to mind is overreaction. And that's probably being kind by not reading any sort of other intent into it. Perhaps I am too charitable.

    Always follow the money.

    by Zaq on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:11:36 PM PST

  •  Make him prove the "holiday tree" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, kyril, Eric Nelson

    This is apocrypha. It lives in right wing chain e-mails that circle the globe, and the right wing brain, many times a second. There has not been an actual "holiday tree" that has been documented, but this guy conveniently has a school in his far right district that is magically using the incantation from the e-mails?

    Lying to the legislature ought to be illegal. It's certainly violating the 4th commandment.

    People complain about dirt, but I'd like to see them make some.

    by The Geogre on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:12:05 PM PST

  •  No muslims do not get a holiday display... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, kyril, wintergreen8694

    ...we're a Christian nation. Don't you know anything? Sheesh, YOU should have learned THAT in school.

    snark

    -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

    by Blueslide on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:15:16 PM PST

  •  I'm super, super confused! (5+ / 0-)

    Conservatives hate and distrust government, but they want government in charge of religious displays? Help me out here, I'm perplexed.

  •  I've been entertaining myself (7+ / 0-)

    By wishing the Fundies at work a "Happy Saturnalia".

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:16:32 PM PST

  •  Here's yer war on xmas (4+ / 0-)

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:19:32 PM PST

  •  I'm fine with nativity scens in schools... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, Brainwrap, kyril

    as long as they're the nativity scene used on the Colbert show, where the object of adoration is Stephen Colbert's new book ;)

  •  My Christmas Tree faces Mecca. (6+ / 0-)

    I know. Right?

    skipping over damaged area

    by Says Who on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:22:52 PM PST

  •  I hate to say it because it will probably garner (6+ / 0-)

    lots of anger even here, but the school probably shouldn't have a decorated tree at all. Why not stick to snowflakes and winter wonderland stuff? I love Christmas trees and lights and all the silly wonderful Christmas displays, but they really don't belong in public schools because they truly do belong to a particular religion.
    That said, I grew up looking down on other Jews who had "holiday trees" or "Hannukah bushes," (though as an adult I know some nice intelligent people who do this). It seemed like blatant silliness. If they want a Christmas tree, call it a Christmas tree. "Holiday tree" is just foolishness. As for the war on Christmas because some chain store says "Happy Holidays," well that's an accurate greeting -- there are several holidays during this general season including Christmas, Chanuka, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and New Year's. So "holidays" is the appropriate word.
    But it's fine with me if the decorated tree in Target is called a Christmas tree, because that's what it is. When they have a menorah decoration up or a dreidel cut out, they don't call it a "holiday candelabra" or a "holiday spinning top." These are private businesses so the separation of church & state is not relevant.

    We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

    by Tamar on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:23:03 PM PST

    •  Yes! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, KateCrashes, Tamar

      "Yes, it's a Christmas tree, you're not fooling anyone". This Jew agrees and rolls my eyes at blatantly Christmas-y stuff trying to look non-denominational. Not cause it's offending poor Christian sensibilities, but cause it comes off as kinda patronizing.

      •  There is nothing Christian about the Christmas (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        Tree (Yule Log, actually).

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:10:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  except to non-Christians. To us it seems very (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bluemeanies, Batya the Toon

          Christian. Beautiful, pleasurable to look at, worth enjoying when in someone else's home or in their yard, and undeniably Christian. You may think it is not religious, but to other religions or to many atheists it is.
          I've heard an argument for prayer in schools that has a similar tenor to yours -- a speaker on a panel I went to said that a prayer like "Lord, watch over us" is universal and shouldn't be viewed as imposing religion on anyone. From this guy's point of view, it seemed so. From my point of view, it would be an unconscionable infringement on my family's religious liberty to have it in public schools -- there are so many specific beliefs built into that short prayer starting with the belief that there is a god.
          A nice family living next to us offered to take our daughter, 3 at the time, to visit Santa Claus. When I thanked them but said no because we're Jewish (which they knew), their response was "but Santa Claus isn't religious!"
          Majority religions often view their rituals and culture and customs as universal. Doesn't make it so.

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:25:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is now. (0+ / 0-)

          It didn't originate within Christianity, but neither did a whole big lot of things that are now inextricably Christian.

    •  "Most sensible comment" award n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tamar
    •  Christmas trees aren't religious (0+ / 0-)

      There's absolutely nothing religious about a dead tree with lights on it. It's culturally Christian (just as, say, latkes are culturally Jewish) but it's not religiously Christian (just as latkes aren't religiously Jewish).

      There's nothing wrong with including cultural traditions in your winter celebration, as long as you're suitably diverse in your choices. It only becomes a problem when you start including holiday traditions that actually do have religious content (Nativity scenes, daylight fasts, menorahs, arguably Santa stuff).

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:30:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  on this we'll have to disagree. Whether you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        delilah 52, Batya the Toon

        consider it religious or not, it's associated specifically with Christianity. I feel the same way about Santa Claus -- I have nothing against Santa Claus in shopping malls, but they are related specifically to Christians and Christmas. I never allowed my children to "sit on Santa's lap" because that action is part of being Christian, not part of being Jewish.
        In fact, I told each of my children, when they turned about 2 1/2 that Santa Claus was not real -- the gifts were really from parents (or guardians) just like Chanuka gifts. But I told them it was our secret and they shouldn't say anything to their friends. They each kept the secret perfectly, and when their friends would chatter about Santa Claus, they'd look at me and we'd smile knowingly at each other.
        I wanted them to know because otherwise they might feel there was something wrong with them that Santa Claus didn't give them any presents. Santa Claus may not be considered particularly religious by many Christians, but he's symbolic of a particular religion's holiday -- Christmas -- not some generic or non-religious holiday like Thanksgiving or July 4.
        Most Jews (and maybe Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists, I can't speak for them) feel like outsiders when Santa Claus and Christmas trees and Christmas carols are made part of the activities in taxpayer-supported schools that are supposed to belong to all of us. I grew up when those things were common, and it really was quite uncomfortable. And it often led to nasty remarks about Jews being different or "Christ-killers" from some members of the Christian majority in the school.

        We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

        by Tamar on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 07:36:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yup. (0+ / 0-)
      I grew up looking down on other Jews who had "holiday trees" or "Hannukah bushes"
      Did you have that book There's No Such Thing As A Hannukah Bush too?  Oh, memories.
  •  It's a time to talk about tolerance, Rep. Bohac. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    Teaching moments, perhaps, that do seem singularly applicable to the function of schools.

    A suggestion:  Before requiring schools to display particular symbols of one religion or another - and face the inevitable challenges from believers in other faiths and non-believers - why not a set of lessons on various religious beliefs based on an objective and spiritually neutral lesson plan that authentically describes, say, the five main world religions. Or the most prominent religions in the United States. ("Religions in the US" meaning, for this purpose, denominations, which would be Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, Methodists, Mormons ... and perhaps both Muslims (though not so prominent) and atheists for contrast.)

    Unless a teacher is equipped and willing to deal more generally about religion, so that it truly is a time for teaching and not proselytizing, keep schools and religion as separate as church and state should be.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:24:36 PM PST

  •  Just to state the obvious... (5+ / 0-)

    ...the traditional "Christmas tree" has nothing to do with Christmas; it dates back to pagan nature-worshipping religions.

    ...Hanukkah, while it is certainly celebrated by Jews worldwide, is not a major Jewish holiday; not even close. It's essentially a celebration of a military victory, plucked from obscurity to become the "Jewish holiday of note" in the U.S. purely because it happens to fall close to Christmas.

    You're not even supposed to give gifts on Hanukkah--that'd be Purim. The "one gift per night" thing was started purely to make Jewish kids in the U.S. feel better when they saw all their Christian friends getting a bunch of crap every year.

  •  The Christmas Tree is a solidly pagan custom (5+ / 0-)

    A tree that blooms with all sorts of good things (originally, mostly sweets) in the middle of winter. A nice symbol of the Tree of Life / Goddess, and Her promise that life will be renewed.

    •  viz., Yggdrasil, the sacred elven tree (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      renzo capetti, atana, annieli, HansScholl

      Or the banyan under which Prince Siddartha, later to be the Buddha, taught.  The day the Buddha was enlightened, December 8, is perhaps even more sacred to December than Beethoven's birthday, December 16.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

      by triplepoint on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:44:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Church of the FSM (7+ / 0-)

    He boiled for your sins, you know.  Have you been touched by His noodly appendage?

  •  What I want (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, wintergreen8694

    is spaghetti served in the cafeteria every Thursday in honor of the FSM.
    You got a problem with that?

    ...and who, disguised as rambler american, mild mannered commenter for a great Democratic web blog, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

    by rambler american on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:30:59 PM PST

  •  GOP. Solving non-existant problems. Ignoring the (5+ / 0-)

    others.

    The economy is tanking, so let's talk Christmas trees.  There are 2 intractable unjustified wars so let's pass a prohibition on Sharia law. Let's hold hearings on women's health and not have a single woman in the discussion.

    An unsuccessful attempt at shoe bombing fails so millions of us have to remove our shoes for the TSA.

    Weekly there is a story about mass shootings in schools workplaces, malls, etc. There were 2 shootings on the local freeway in the last 3 days.  God forbid we discuss gun control.

    I rec'd this diary because Hunter is an observant and awesome writer !!

    I think that Republicanism is revealing itself as a personality disorder, not so much an ideology." -- Naomi Klein

    by AllanTBG on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:31:07 PM PST

  •  Oh my the war on Xmas (0+ / 0-)

    Oh horrors. ...

    Right wing aholes

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:31:37 PM PST

  •  The sad part is the schools in Texas! (5+ / 0-)

    Underfunded schools in Texas puts us at the bottom of education in America. A nativity scene is not going to help that. Nor will it help the constant push to remove evolution from curriculum.

  •  I generally agree, but (0+ / 0-)

    you kind of lost me with that last sentence; US Christians do not wage violent war with each other in their churches, and haven't for many years.  Moreover, the last major act of religiously-inspired violence in this country (September 11) wasn't perpetrated by Christians.  Just thought I should point it out.    

    Don't crash the gate--take back the keys.

    by lungfish on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:38:05 PM PST

    •  Oh, yeah, and before I forget (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, I know about the shooting of the abortion doctor in his church, and obviously, that was horrible (and, like the shooting last week, a good argument for making it harder to get deadly weapons).  The thing is that the last sentence of this diary makes it sound like that's something that happens daily or weekly, and not an aberration.  Also, when was the last time any Christian anywhere burned anybody?  Hundreds of years ago, by my reckoning, and not relevant to modern politics.    

      Don't crash the gate--take back the keys.

      by lungfish on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:53:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No, you didn't miss any nuance. (2+ / 0-)
    Hinduism is considered indistinguishable from Islam because all brown people look alike; everything else is pretty much just blanket Satanism. Am I missing any nuance there?

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:38:21 PM PST

  •  I for one (0+ / 0-)

    have never required validation of my faith from the state, local or federal government.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:38:28 PM PST

  •  Let's get some Wiccans and Pentagrams (3+ / 0-)

    For those solstice and All Hallow's Eve celebrations as well, and see how much they like it.

    These ratfucks really don't understand the basic principle of America, do they? Why exactly we had a disestablishment clause in our Constitution, plus the first amendment? Or how it PROTECTS religion to keep it out of the public square?

    No, they don't.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:38:32 PM PST

  •  Hunter, I love you. (0+ / 0-)

    You write exceptionally well, and you treat these nutcases with the contempt their ideas deserve, all the while making me laugh with your devastatingly funny sarcasm.

    Thanks for calling out the insanity and doing it in a way that puts a smile on my face.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:41:17 PM PST

  •  I'd like to see what would happen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694

    if they tried to open up public schools to religion.  As long as it means that the Jehovah Witness folks can canvass the schools and Scientologists can leave copies of Dianetics on tables in the cafeteria.

    "Please proceed, Governor"

    by betsyross on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:43:55 PM PST

  •  Happy Holidays (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Citizen
    Hard-right Christianity is presumed to be the only true form; Judaism is begrudgingly tolerated as the thing that proves how terribly inclusive the Christian folks are; naughty socialist Christianity (the kind about tolerating people, caring for the sick and so on) is only tolerated if they pipe down on the naughty socialist parts and just yell Merry Jesus Day at folks; Islam is right out—they're not even allowed to have their own places of worship on their own property without having the good religious Christian folks mount national offensives against them. Hinduism is considered indistinguishable from Islam because all brown people look alike; everything else is pretty much just blanket Satanism. Am I missing any nuance there?
    Nope, you got it all covered.

    I was recently on a vessel that participated in a boat parade here in SoCal. I took note of one particularly colorful boat that had "Merry Christmas!" lit up with great fanfare. Upon closer inspection (it was the boat behind us), the words "Happy Holidays" were present, but unlit. I took another look.

    What they had done is put in lights "It's Not Happy Holidays Stupid. It's Merry Christmas!" except they only lit the Merry Christmas part.

    It almost made the guy in the dinghy with the lit up scripture seem reasonable.

    "An injury to one is an injury to all"

    by jhb90277 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:49:21 PM PST

  •  What if one worships dung beetles? (0+ / 0-)

    Jainists do, I believe. They worship all living things, including insects, which includes dung beetles, who require, well, dung to live. Is that ok too? We can built a "snowman" of sorts with it, or perhaps a replica of Bill O'Reilly.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:50:11 PM PST

  •  This mindset is bonkers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694

    1) Christ was NOT born on 12/25.
    2) Not everyone is a Christian in this country.
    3) Who the hell do these folks think they are to try and set this up as LAW! They spout the Constitution, so follow it and keep church and state separate.  

    Too many have bought into the funny mental Christian hoo ha and then many of those buy into the right wing hoo ha, along with NRA hoo ha. Those that want to control the mindset of as many as they can, have twisted the scripture to fit their own venue, and way too many have fallen prey to it.

  •  First they come for your Christmas trees (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694

    Then they come for your Bushmasters and AR-15s.

    And finally they come for your Red Dead Redemption.

    And then you have nothing to fight off the black helicopters with.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:55:02 PM PST

  •  festivus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694

    I want a Festivus pole.  

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 01:57:24 PM PST

    •  The Crushmas Tree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howabout

      That's what I called it for all the times I was emotionally crushed as a child for not getting what I asked for from Santa Claus...year after year. Then I discovered it was my parent's doing. Crushed again.

      I knew she was the gal for me as soon as she laid her eyes on me. Right on me shoulder, she did. Popped the buggers right out her head, and laid em on me shoulder. She's a sweet heart, that gal.

      by glb3 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:07:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can bet that any display other than... (0+ / 0-)

    Christian or Jewish (permitted groups, but Catholics are not Christian, they say and the Jews will soon all be in the Holy Land...)

    And Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs?  Hahaha. Not a chance.

    Not to mention Wicca people and people of "open and inviting" churches, temples and mosques? Before they go full boat on "christianIST" rights, I want to see what happens when a Wicca group wants the same square meterage and when a LGBTIQ Christian Church wants an equal area in which to celebrate their lives...

    Betcha not a chance.

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

    by unclebucky on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:02:27 PM PST

  •  The Failure of Public (and other) education... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsegel

    ... apparently teaching the simplest concepts has become impossible.

    It is 100% ABSOLUTELY ILLEGAL, a violation of the constitution's no-establishment clause to put religious elements into the public school system.

    We have spent hundreds of million$ fighting this crap out in court, all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled SANTA CLAUS and Christmas Tree's were SECULAR symbols, with meaning beyond any religious one, and are allowed. But nativity scenes and religious symbols are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.

    This is settled law, and I for one would love to see a new law, ALEC can push it forward as it is deficit reduction! .....

    Anyone putting forth a bill that blatantly violates settled (by SCOTUS) law shall at a minimum have to PAY all expenses involved in the inevitable lawsuits to strike it down.

    If these idiots insist on wasting the peoples time and money on this childish nonsense, they should have to put their money where their idiocy is.

  •  Here's the Christian response (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i saw an old tree today

    to atheist displays. Happened right outside my town recently. And this was a paid-for billboard not on school or other public property. This website has before and after pics.

  •  and also (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KateCrashes

    Native American traditions have pretty much been banned (or relegated to token performance around Thanksgiving, even if it's Plains Indians rather than Wampanoag). So have African-derived spiritual practices such as voodoo, Santeria, or condomble.

    Pagan rites (or Disneyfied versions thereof) are sometimes obligatory (Halloween, Easter eggs) and sometimes excluded.

    And we saw what happened to the Sikhs. . . .

  •  Muslim displays... (0+ / 0-)

    "So if the parents of Muslim students want a Muslim display during their holidays, do they get it?"

    No, of course not.  That would be a state statute implementing Sharia law.

  •  They're called "Pastafarians." (0+ / 0-)

    I may have to start calling you "Chamberlain-esque" Democrats adherents of the "Pulling Defeat from the Jaws of Victory Party."

    Let these Alamo wanna-be's pass their legislation, and then force them to offer the same to every "philosophical" body --- including the non-religious.  Force them, under Federal Law, to provide taxpayer funding for every individual's philosophical needs.  THAT's where you stick the political knife in their belly:  By redefining "religion" as "philosophy."  That way, their desire to have it their way becomes a mandate to legally fund "every individual's select, unique way."

    Trust me on this one --- it's the one thing they'll never be able to defeat, and the one thing they'll never bring themselves to accept.

    I count even the single grain of sand to be a higher life-form than the likes of Sarah Palin and her odious ilk.

    by Liberal Panzer on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 02:57:04 PM PST

  •  I am so glad (0+ / 0-)

    I live in England.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:10:50 PM PST

  •  Does this mean we can also celebrate Jan 2? (0+ / 0-)

    You know what that is don't you? Eight days after Christmas? Why, it's the celebration of the feast of the circumcision and naming of Jesus!

    Don't you think that would make a nice pagent in the school auditorium for the 6th graders to act out?

    I sure wish some of those religious zealots would go and get themselves enlightened. They sure know how to ruin a good holiday spirit. What a bunch of kill-joys.

    the Republican brand is totally bankrupt.

    by vlyons on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:26:08 PM PST

  •  alm sari, but B O H A C ? too/good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KateCrashes

    clime parches on. terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout-famine, acceptance of nature.

    by renzo capetti on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 03:45:44 PM PST

  •  How dare they (0+ / 0-)

    How dare they waste my tax dollars on this shit?
    The courts will kick this to the curb: AGAIN.

    How many times do we have to kick the freaks in the nuts* before the way our country works sinks in?

    (*unless they are the kind of freaks who get off on that.)

  •  I'm offended that Festivus is not being included (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694

    Why was Festivus left out of this legislation? It should allow for an illuminated, tall aluminum pole being placed next to any decorated tree, menorah or creche in a public space. Further, the legislation should require unlimited air time on public access TV for citizens' airing of grievances during this festive holiday season.

  •  Nuance? (0+ / 0-)

    Don't need no stinkin' nuance.  We got certainty.

    the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity

    by mailman27 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 07:51:42 PM PST

  •  Well then - Kudos to New Orleans schools.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluemeanies, Batya the Toon

    .. for rejecting Texas' creationism curriculum.
    Think Progress - By Zack Beauchamp on Dec 19, 2012 at 11:49 am

    A Louisiana school district voted on Wednesday to ban from its schools any textbooks and school curricula that follows the guidelines of Texas’ extreme, ideological standards.
    A little Texas history:
    Two years ago, proposed Texas textbook changes sparked outrage by rewriting history along right-wing lines and minimizing slavery. While not fully successful, the watered-down version still conveyed an entirely skewed vision of history. A recent review of the books, for example, found a consistent pattern of viciously negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam.

    So New Orleans Parish made explcit rules stating that:
    “No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the State of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories…No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class,” it reads. “No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes.”
    May many more follow suit :)
  •  I demand to sing the Sredni Vashtar song (0+ / 0-)

    Do one thing for me, Sredni Vashtar!

  •  Yes!!! (0+ / 0-)

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Rules!!!!

    "Equal rights for gays." Yeah, it's just that simple.

    by planmeister on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:31:33 PM PST

  •  TX HD 138 has been electing this clown since 2002 (0+ / 0-)

    I live in 138 and I cannot believe he still wins.  Bohac's business is political consulting and his parter worked under Paul Bettencourt in the Harris County Tax Assessor's office which handled voter registration.  As such, through his parter, Bohac likely had access to information that he should not have had.  

    I believe his children attend private schools, or did at one tim.  Maybe he didn't seem like such a public education crusader so he pulled them out.

    He was a former intern to Tom DeLay, btw, in 1987.

  •  One more thing before I move on, (0+ / 0-)

    I'm all for the separation of church and state, but I also don't think liberals should lose their mind every time somebody utters the phrase "Merry Christmas," or any time anything even vaguely Christian (and that's the only one they ever object to, in this country) shows up in a public place.  

    Don't crash the gate--take back the keys.

    by lungfish on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:33:59 AM PST

  •  Public religious expressions (0+ / 0-)

    Quote:
    So if the parents of Muslim students want a Muslim display during their holidays, do they get it? Or would all of Republican Texas melt down in a puddle of self-righteous outrage about how those people are trying to indoctrinate their kids?
    end

    I'm sure they would melt down into that pool of outrage.
    But I also know that most religious denominations or faiths engage in some public displays, whether they are minority, or state religions, or religious inhabitants of secular societies.  
    To view such practices as aggressive, evangelical or missionary in nature is not fair, since there are plenty of faiths, Judaism and Orthodox Christianity to name two of them, which don't engage in any kind of public political expression, evangelization or missionary work.

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