Attitudes toward holidays unveil bias

By Eric Seymour

Although you might not know it by the weather here in southern Indiana, you can probably tell by the last of leftover Thanksgiving dishes served up on dinner tables and the colorful lights adorning houses and yards. It is the end of November (or the beginning of December, depending on when you read this.) As such, we are mid-way between two holidays which some would say are direct opposites--Halloween and Christmas.

Think back a moment to the last week or so in October. Recall your classrooms or the office where you work. How were they decorated? If they were like most, there were plenty of ghosts, goblins, spiders & webs, skulls, witches, and the like. Plenty of public institutions were celebrating this holiday with its traditional references to dark and gloomy things, albeit with an attitude of "it's just for fun."

Now, imagine what we'll likely see in the next few weeks. If it is like most years, dozens of schools, city halls, and other public places will be threatened or sued to remove decorations which refer to the winter holidays' root in the Judeo-Christian faith. Somewhere, another nativity star will be replaced with a snowman, and a company will instruct its receptionists to replace the greeting "Merry Christmas" or even "Happy Holidays," with the generic, secular "Season's Greetings."

This is yet another vivid example of the tacit discrimination against Judeo-Christian values under the umbrella of the Apolitically correct@ movement. Any religious expression, especially that of Christianity, meets extreme resistance from those who shout "separation of church and state" as if it were in the Constitution. In fact, the First Amendment prohibits the government from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion"--the Establishment Clause. But in the same sentence, it prohibits the government from restricting religion--the Free Exercise Clause. Far too often today, the Establishment Clause is read so strongly that it encroaches on the freedoms granted by the Free Exercise Clause.

Under this system of thinking, public Christmas displays are considered equal to the government promoting Christianity, never mind the historical basis of the winter holidays. Yet Halloween decorations are apparently OK, presumably because "no one takes them seriously." But Halloween is no less a part of pagan religious practices than Christmas is of Christianity. The symbols are part of a real belief system held by more than a few people in society.

Since a fairly young age, I have not participated in Halloween celebrations. This is a personal choice based on application of my own values. I am not particularly disturbed, though, by the decorations and events that last for perhaps two weeks of the year. This is the attitude that should be taken in the public sphere everywhere. Both Halloween and Christmas are holidays rooted in religous traditions. This does not require their total exclusion from the public sphere, however. The celebrations are "generic" enough to not constitute religious indoctrination, and those who don't want to participate can choose not to. However, if PC attitudes prevail, Halloween decorations should be limited to the same extent as Christmas displays.

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Joel Corbin

Bryant Lewis

Rush Reagan