Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bush The Crusader? Hardly.

President Bush is often accused by his opponents of furthering religious divisions and trying to fashion a fundamentalist Christian America. If you're someone who believes that to be the case, then how do you explain this controversy?

He is the most popular president among conservative Christians, but the greeting card he sent out this year was not Christian — or Christmasy — enough for some.

The card — with a photo of the family pets, a gold seal, and scripture from the Old Testament — reads "Best Wishes for the Holiday Season" and not "Merry Christmas."

That infuriated William Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

"At a time when a lot of Christians today are very upset about the way our society is dumbing down Christmas," he said, "they certainly don't want to see the president of the United States chiming in. We know he is a man of courage, so why is he giving in to the forces of political correctness?"

It's that secular "Happy Holidays" phrase Donohue's and other groups can't stand. They also can't stand its generic twin "Seasons Greetings." In recent years they've organized boycotts of stores like Macy's and Target for failing to mention Christmas by name.

"Prior to Clinton," Donahue said, "none of the presidents had a problem saying Christmas at Christmas time. Now Bush is pulling a Clinton. I expected more from this guy."

This is a preposterous tempest in a teapot, just as preposterous as when the ACLU or other secularists protest displays and expressions specifically Christmas-oriented. It is amazing to me how people can be so easily offended by actions that are clearly not intended to offend.

Mr. Bush is a Christian man who feels his faith deeply. That he would choose to use a more secular expression in his Christmas card this year should offend nobody. Similarly, that a business or township should choose to have a Christmas display or parade should offend no one. Saying "Merry Christmas" does not equate to "Muslims go home" unless you're either hypersensitive or specifically heard those words right after the "Merry Christmas." Too many are too eager to take offense at things that are not meant as a slight.

That scripture from the Old Testament?

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him." (Psalm 28:7 (RSV))

No comments: