Friday, December 21, 2007

The War on Christmas and Discrimination

So last night I caught NBC's War on Christmas update.

I dunno. I don't have a TV, but I was in a waiting room and it was on. I can't remember what station it was. Anyway. I was a little perturbed because they were talking about Green Bay, Wisconsin and they did not mention once the pentacle issue there. (I can't find the clip on their website, though I found it last night and wrote them a letter about it too!)

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, apparently a few days ago Green Bay, Wisconsin's city council decided to put a nativity scene on top of the city hall, but the mayor said anybody else who wanted to add their own religious symbols to the display was invited to do so Circle Sanctuary, being local, stepped up and offered a pentacle wreath. It was added to the display and shortly thereafter taken down in the dead of night and destroyed by some random person who is, apparently, still at large. (The nativity is undamaged) Circle Sanctuary immediately moved to replace the pentacle but the city council then had another meeting and voted to retain the nativity but put a moratorium on any additional symbols.
You can find more details at http://www.circlesanctuary.org/gbpentacle/

So yea, NBC said, and I roughly quote "The nativity above city hall in Green Bay Wisconsin will stay because the city council voted tonight to keep it there." With NO mention whatsoever that they voted at the same time NOT to allow anything else until further discussion. So they had a meeting last night (while the news was being broadcast) and I'm not sure of the results of that. According to what I've read, it was just a bunch of people voicing their opinions and no decisions were made. Whatever all that, the nativity remains above the entrance to city hall, under which anyone who goes there for any sort of business is forced to walk (and be slapped in the face with how they are abnormal if they don't revere it) and no additional symbols have been put up. So, of course, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State jumped in the fray and there's now a lawsuit pending.
Damn.

It's really rediculous how these things happen. I bet it will be reported by the mainstream media as "Green Bay Wisconsin forced to remove Nativity or face lawsuit" rather than "Green Bay Wisconsin mayor faces lawsuit for showing preferential treatment toward the majority religion."

Honestly though, I don't think the Mayor and the City Council mean to be assholes. I think they acted hastily and should have had all these meetings before they started putting up religious symbols. They admit as much themselves in the stories if you read them closely. They said "Hey, we're going to let people put whatever they want up." and didn't set down any guidelines for it. So the question arises, what if other religions want to put up displays for other times of the year?

I found this discussion about the subject http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread321668/pg1
Fellow Pagan blogger at the Wild Hunt http://www.wildhunt.org/blog.html has also been following this issue.

Of course, this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. It just so happened that Circle Sanctuary was involved this time and Rev. Selena Fox & Co. are media whores. They make sure everyone knows what goes on with them- to their credit and often to the benefit of Paganism as a whole. (They were deeply involved in the quests to allow Pentacles on gravestones in military cemetaries). A smilar incident took place earlier this month in New York.

I am really tired of hearing about the war on Christmas. There is no war on Christmas, it's a war against religous hegemony. The reality is that many of the symbols people associate with Christmas and many of the traditions people associate with Christmas are Pagan or secular. They've been around since before the birth of Christ. They have been observed independant of as well as alongside Christianity for centuries, and they are enjoying a resurgance under the new Pagan movement. The tree is not JUST a Christmas tree, it is also a Yule tree, or a Solstice tree. Nobody insists on calling it that in the public eye. We are happy to call it a Holiday tree so as to include Christinity in the tradition, even though the trees have nothing. NOTATHING to do with Christianity, Christ or the observance of the birth of Christ. Some of the very religions that are screaming now once condemned Christmas as a Pagan holiday. I don't care if polititions talk about opening gifts on Christmas morning, because that's what they do. They don't have to call them Holiday presents if they're Christmas presents. I don't call my Yule gifts Holiday presents. I call them Yule gifts if they're for the Pagan folks, and Christmas gifts if they're for the Christian folks, and Holiday gifts if I don't know. It's just common courtesy not to make assumptions. You know.

Ergh. I'm ranting again. I'll stop now.