Response to Ben Stein’s Christmas Commentary

I have seen this note on facebook being passed around by several friends, usually with a little commentary of complete agreement.  No offense to the people who have posted it, it is a silly and doesn’t show much thought into the imaginary “Christmas War.”

Here is the note:

Very insightful and very true….Take a second to read this:

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as “Holiday Trees” for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America . . .

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

I am an atheist, and it doesn’t bother me when I see Christmas trees or other holiday decoration.  I like it.  I enjoy this time of year with all the lights, decorations, gifts, and seeing family and friends.

I was raised with mindset that Jesus was the reason for the season and that I should keep Christ in Christmas.  Since becoming an atheist, I do find the Christian Christmas story a myth and have realized that nearly all the traditions we use are pagan.  However, that doesn’t mean I think Christians should stop celebrating Christ’s mass.  They believe it, and they have the right to celebrate it how they see fit.

However the problem comes in when their way of celebration and their beliefs get pushed on to everyone else in an ideally secular setting.  When someone speaks out about including other celebrations/traditions or keeping the government secular, it is automatically a “war.”

Christians simply aren’t being pushed around when it comes to Christmas in the United States.  They are the majority.  They just don’t like to encounter any opposing views.  I’ve written about this before where the US government was made strictly secular – separation of church and state.  State property isn’t the place to promote a religion, even during Christmas.  Anything else is completely fair game to be used in how the owner sees fit.

Ben Stein’s letter is completely wrong.  America’s people are primarily Christian.  They are allowed to worship their god any way they want.  They aren’t being pushed around.  America isn’t an atheist country, but the government is meant to be neutral to matters of religion, also known as secular.  No president has claimed to be atheist yet.  Public schools have Christian clubs in which students can pray and study the Bible.  I led that group in high school.  There was absolutely no discrimination against us.  Stein goes on to explain how the lack of morality is from the removing of religion in the public square.  But if you look at the religion statistics of those who are in prison, there is incredibly small amount of non religious compared to religious, especially Christianity.  On same note, majority of professors, scientists, and Nobel winners are non-religious.  Atheism/secularism isn’t the cause of all these all the wrong.  You don’t need scripture to tell you killing and stealing is wrong.

It would be nice for Christians to quit nit picking about Christmas definition and simply enjoy the holiday.  I’m glad that most Christians today do not follow Christian only Christmas traditions.  It would only leave attending a special Christmas service.  Nearly everything else comes from pagan traditions.  I’m happy with my growing up, enjoying Christmas celebrations.  I have encountered this year that I shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving because I’m atheist.  However, trees, gifts, mistletoe, decorations are not of Christian tradition.  I have just the same amount of right celebrating Christmas traditions as anyone else, especially since most traditions are not of Christian origin.  Christians do not have monopoly on the holiday season.  I will be celebrating Christmas without Christ.

Enjoy your holiday and be merry!  Merry Christmas!

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