Saturday, December 24, 2005

What the President Said on December 24th..... a radio address to our troops:

“Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will.”

My question to you is: Was the President of the United States out of line by including such a blatant invocation of God and religion into his address? Did he somehow "offend" those non-religious, American souls? Was he being exclusive? Was he in violation of the establishment clause in the First Amendment?

Since I suspect most reading this are fellow bloggers, who do their news research and cross-references, I will come clean right away, and admit that the above address was delivered by the President... 1944! You see, President Bush never said these words. President Franklin D. Roosevelt did, 60 years ago in a radio address to the troops serving in WWII.

I first posted the above ruse a year ago on a message board, after listening to Michael Medved pull this stunt on his listeners. He baited the atheists and Wall-of-Separation advocates to wax indignant and work themselves up. "How dare the President do this!" "Grrr! I'm offended, wah, wah, wah!" Like Mr. Medved, I waited for some responses to generate before coming clean.

The thing is, President Bush has the reputation of being a "devout Christian"; and there is a lot of talk about "the religious right", as if that's a dirty, nasty thing to be. The fact is, President Bush is a devout Methodist. As
Zell Miller put it
, "I can identify with someone who has lived that line in 'Amazing Grace,' 'Was blind, but now I see,' and I like the fact that he's the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning."

I think labeling President Bush as some sort of Christian jihadist, however, is a perception pushed by the media. The fact is, every U.S. President, beginning with George Washington, has addressed this country as a Christian nation. You might argue that the Roosevelt quote was from 1944, that we didn't know any better then, and we are better off in this ultra PC, ultra-sensitive world we live in now. But stats I've heard are that the U.S. is no less Christian than it was 60 years ago; nor has the number of practicing Jews and Muslims in this country significantly increased in those 60 years. Christians make up about 90 percent of the population here. And it isn't just conservatives who are religious, obviously. Why should the "rights" of the minority oppress the majority? We are a nation obsessed with trying to make things fair and equal to everyone, to a point of absurdity.

According to
Paul Kengor a year ago
, President Bush, speaking as President, has been no more religious than the majority of any other President of the U.S. On Average, President Clinton has mentioned Christ in 5.1 statements per year while President Bush has mentioned Jesus/Christ 4.7. And according to a book I read, A Matter of Character, by Ronald Kessler, President Bush is seen to talk about his deep and abiding faith most often when it is usually brought up by the press who obsess over it.

Bush's biggest year of referencing Jesus/Christ was 2001, the year of 9/11. 7 times. In 2002, 5 public statements. In all of 2003, his Presidential Documents only show a mention of Jesus twice: an Easter address and a Christmas one. That's 14 statements in 3 years, compared to 41 that Clinton mentions Jesus in his 8 years of office.

In addition, Bush from 2000-2003 is listed in Presidential Documents as having only spoken on three occasions in a church. In contrast, Clinton spoke 21 times. Bill Clinton freely mixed politics and religion (“By the grace of God and your help, last year I was elected President.” ). Yet President Bush is the one who gets nailed to the cross by the media as being "too religious".

He lit a menorah at the White House a year ago, before Rabbis and about 200 others from the Jewish community; he's also said prayer in mosques, as well as stressed about tolerance for Muslims in this country and how Islam is a religion of peace (I've got a lot of thoughts on this, but that's saved for another post, perhaps). In fact, no American President has ever gone so far out of his way to stress tolerance for Islam.

So, when he lit that menorrah, was President Bush somehow pissing on the Christians, atheists, Muslims, and wiccans of this great nation of ours? When he prayed amongst the Muslim community, did he somehow offend, because he left out all the non-Muslims, making them feel "unwelcomed"? Is this being "divisive", or could it be showing acceptance and tolerance and being welcoming toward all Americans of all faiths?

Time for a rant...

As my regular readership (of about 3) have heard me say time and time before, I myself, am non-religious. My dad is atheist and my mom Buddhist. Yet my family every year celebrated Christmas, the way we chose to celebrate it, without being threatened by it. We celebrated the tradition of Christmas, which I see as a very deeply rooted American tradition. My childhood was a very happy one, enriched by having Christmas trees to decorate each year as well as presents to give and receive, while growing up. I watched "The Little Drummer Boy" claymation and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" back when they were televised every year. These are crammed full of religiosity. Yet was I somehow damaged by that, being the good non-Christian that I am? Did my non-Christian parents feel threatened by it? Not at all.

Furthermore and practicality-wise, commercialism is good for the economy. Money gets circulated around; people are in a festive mood. It's a special time. You can look at gift-giving from a Scrooge standpoint; or see it as an opportunity to make another fellow human being have a moment of happiness. The commercialism and the spirituality are intermingled, each benefiting the other, in my opinion. Being selfish and selfless, to me, are yin and yang.

I don't want to say "Happy Holidays" without also adding "Merry Christmas" to folks. I know Jewish families who aren't threatened by Christianity and say it to people freely. I am not offended by Nativity scenes and references to Jesus. I love seeing a neighborhood that is lit up and decorated from house to house to house. There is a sense of unity and community. Of being connected to something greater than yourself. I love Christmas songs...the one time to listen to some beautiful (and some awful) music you don't play any other time of the year.

I don't see Christmas as excluding anyone.

The way I see it, this modern nation of ours, with all the good and the bad that has taken place to bring us to this point in time, is founded upon a cultural heritage of Judeo-Christian values and traditions. Since sometime after the 1860's, Christmas has been celebrated as a national holiday. It's roots are steeped in things other than Christianity; yet in its present incarnation, it is a perfect blend of religion and non-religion. I see what it has become as distinctly American, in flavor.

Some of the deeply religious Christians may cry out in indignation that Christmas has been hijacked, that it's been commercialized, diluted of religious meaning, and that the "true" spirit has been lost. But, as I made clear earlier, I absolutely love the commercialism every bit as much as I have a reverent respect for the religious heritage.

It is because of the commercialization, that Christmas has become a thing that goes beyond the bounds of religion. In Miracle on 34th Street, that janitor kid bemoans how there are all kinds of isms in this world, but the worst one is commercialism. And yet, the person he is saying it to is the very embodiment of commercialism: Santa Claus!!! Without delving into the historical, spiritual roots of St. Nick, it is Kris Kringle that carries on God's work. I see him as deputized by the Almighty. Do you really think if Jesus was so selfless as to endure and sacrifice for the souls of mankind, he really gives a flying care if celebrating Christmas entails honoring him by "honoring" him? Or honoring him by promoting peace on earth and good will toward all?; the Puritans centuries ago didn't even want to acknowledge a day of birth for the Christ-child; that it somehow diminishes his Resurrection.

Is it so bad to make the children of the world happy with the "fairy tale" of a Sinterklaas? Is Jesus jealous of the attention, or lack thereof? I think not. I would imagine Jesus could care less about winning a popularity contest with, say, a fat man in a red suit.

It is the responsibility of the religious to remember the religious aspects of Christmas. To be angry at the nonreligious, commercialization of Christmas is just misguided. It is a beautiful thing that their religious holiday is celebrated even by those who aren't Christian.

I do not feel oppressed by our government when it mentions or references "God". I actually feel comforted by it. "Freedom of religion" does not equate to "Freedom from religion", which is what atheist fundamentalists want. We live in a very tolerant nation founded upon a Judeo-Christian heritage that tolerates all religions. Over time, without it being force-fed to us by a very slim minority (or suppressed by militant secularists intolerant of all religious references in public government and private businesses) , other religious traditions and cultures will become naturally adopted and adapted into mainstream American tradition and culture.

It sickens me that we have become such a hyper-sensitive society. Being offended by someone saying "Merry Christmas" to you is as ridiculous as me getting offended if, say, someone handed me a Valentine's Day Card and wished me a Happy Valentine's Day when I didn't have a date or a girlfriend to celebrate it with. How ridiculous if I were to run screaming to the ACLU that someone had offended me, by presuming that I celebrate Valentine's. Of course, there is no "Establishment Clause of Separation of Love and State" in our Constitution; but I think the analogy is clear.

Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All!

Previous related posts:

An America Where it is
Always Winter, Never Christmas

The Eradication of American Heritage

In Whom Do We Trust?

Anti-ACLU + Veterans Day= Joke of the Week

Radical Atheistic Fundamentalists

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Blogger Mary said...

Great post, WS.

I have a quote on my blog from FDR, something he said in 1937, during a "fireside chat" broadcast:

"I hope that you have reread the Constitution of the United States. Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again."

Can you how people would flip out if Bush said that in an address to the entire nation?

I don't understand this feeling of being excluded or threatened by religion. Show me a menorah. I won't be offended. Say "Happy Winter Solstice!" It won't bother me.

As long as the holiday is grounded in goodwill, I'm not going to stand in anyone's way to celebrate it, whatever it may be.

It takes a miserable person to go on a crusade to strip our society of joy.

So, best wishes to you WS! Enjoy all the beauty of the season!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger The Low Carb Runner said...

Merry Christmas from the Whitt Family.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 3:33:00 AM  
Blogger Skye said...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 9:46:00 AM  
Blogger Pebble said...

Deck The House!

Merry Christmas,


Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Kyle Foley said...

how ironic - one of your favorite books is les miserables and yet you are as anti-poor as they come. i think you should read that book again and apply what hugo is thinking to your politcal views. hugo, moreover, was a champion liberal and fought constantly against the establishment yet you dishonor him with your pro-rich conservative stance.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Semper Fi said...

Your article is well-done and thoughtful.


Saturday, December 24, 2005 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

You have to be the most Christian non-Christian I've ever seen, and I mean that as a compliment. You nailed it.

By the way, ignore the Kyle Foley behing the curtain. He's just mad cause someone pissed in his beer.

Happy RamaHannuKwanzMas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela Reece said...

Great post, Sparky! Merry Christmas and may all your dreams come true!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 3:00:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Merry Christmas Wordsmith!

Seems you have a troglodyte, too. Aren't they special? They certainly help me to realize that I must be doing something right to tick them off, so think of it as a compliment!

Merriest of Christmases and a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 7:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Merry Christmas Wordsmith...

And a Happy Ramadan to your moonbat friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 7:55:00 PM  
Blogger The_Bos'un said...

Merry Christmas, Wordsmith.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger yankeemom said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of wormth and love and lots of fun things!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger The_Bos'un said...


I realized that I did not send the rest of it. I lived in Japan for five years and have been there a lot more times off and on over the years. Japan is a Buddhist, Shinto, and Eastern religious country, but, during Christmas time, you would think it something different. The Japanese proudly display signs of Christian symbols and even put up Christmas Trees. Of course, it is also tied in with the End of Year celebrations of Japanese culture. For sure, they are not threatened by our Judeo-Christian beliefs and are good sports about it. Most other countries are much the same. It is a symbol of peace and hope, not a religious celebration. Imagine what would happen if I moved to Israel and started suing to take down their Menorah or go the Saudi Arabia and tried to interfere with Hajj

American leftist on the other hand are a very weird bunch. They are not liberal and they are not tolerant. They do not care what others want if the others are in the majority or if it is a regular culture event. Leftist socialists are more concerned about fringe or the one per centers.

The nice Jewish lady in Bellevue School District Medina Elementary School who successfully got the "giving tree" removed should be proud of herself. She should go to Israel and get the menorah taken down too.

Wish the leftist socialists would lighten up and have a good holiday feeling. One thing that I have observed is that they are the first ones to go home and would be upset if they were forced to work during the holiday times. Could not even get a cup of coffee at Starbucks at 20:30 on a Christmas Eve night. Anyway, in 350 languages, except leftist socialist language, Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 1:22:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks everyone!

Anna, Kyle's just cranky 'cause I ruffled his feathers over at Mary's place. Merry Christmas Kyle! And if you meant "anti-poverty", yes I am; which is why I support conservative policies. During the Great Depression, 1% of the country was on welfare; in 1994, during the economic boom, we had 15% on it. Now why is that? One of the best things Clinton did was to finally approve the '96 welfare reform bill- pushed by a Republican Congress.

If you'd stop for a moment with your blind hatred and caricaturized image of Republicans, you might stand a better chance of making headway. When you think of Republicans in general as nothing more than the "pro-rich, greedy and callous party", then you don't understand Republicans or conservative thought. There are studies out showing that red states donate more to charities than blue states. I spent my years through college dedicated to the homeless, going out early mornings for food the food salvaging program, soup kitchens, as well as volunteering my time in Watts for Project Literacy. In so doing, it does nothing to contradict my conservative views, despite how you choose to interpret my appreciation of Les Miserables.

The 25 years following President Lyndon B. Johnson's "war on poverty", taxpayers spent 3 trillion on every conceivable form of support for the poor and downtrodden. Private givers donated many billions more, including religious charities. And for what we spent, it's been a disaster. The problem with liberals is, they think with their hearts and refuse to look at the empirical data that show how often the policies they set forth make matters worse; not better.

Bos'un, I've got relatives in Japan, and used to visit during the summer. I remember seeing a KFC with a Col. Sanders statue sporting a Santa cap. Yes, the Japanese don't care, and are more than willing to celebrate the festive nature of the holiday.

Also, your mention of the "nice Jewish lady" reminds me of the South Park mom- a liberal do-gooder- who dictates what the nurse with the conjoined twin should be offended by. Do-gooders who are busy-bodies, so full of their own self-righteous indignation and miserly intolerance.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 8:14:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Oh, and Mark? Thanks for the wonderful compliment!

Sunday, December 25, 2005 8:17:00 AM  
Blogger devildog6771 said...

You have out done yourself on this post. It is right on target and well supported. I hope you did trakback to other blogs. I have tried on numerous occasions to say what you have here but unfortunately not nearly as skillfully or eloquently. Thank you! For a man of no religion you have more religion in your heart than most "religious!" I don't just think of religion as a "God" issue. I also think of religion in terms of a philosophy on life.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Curt said...

Hey wordsmith, absolutely awesome post. Gonna link to that one.

Hope you have a merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 25, 2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thank you very much, Curt. I've been a fan of your blog for a few months, now.

devildog, thanks for that. I feel like I'm just rehashing old stuff and my regular readers must be sick of it by now. But this has been a very important issue for me ever since Dennis Prager got my attention when the ACLU threatened a lawsuit against LA County to have a tiny cross removed from its Seal. I should link to previous posts that I have made on this topic.

As for trackback, I don't quite understand how that works. I'm still learning the ropes of blogging.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 6:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Agnostic said...

"Freedom of religion" does not equate to "Freedom from religion", which is what atheist fundamentalists want.

Actually, freedom of religion does imply freedom from religion.

When you chose to practice one religion, you are necessarily chosing to avail yourself from having to practice all other religions. Chosing to be Christian means you claim freedom from Islam. Conversely...choosing to be Christian is the same as choosing not to be Muslim.

When one chooses to not be Christian...freedom of religion demands that they enjoy freedom from the demands of that religion.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 6:31:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Agnostic, I believe you are mischaracterizing the argument and missing the point. By "freedom of", it means you are free to publically express whatever belief you have. The "Wall of Separation" that Jefferson spoke of in a letter has been misused by those on the Left. Since around 1947, judicial activists, legislating from the bench, could not find in the Constitution anything about "freedom from religion"; and so they have searched and searched to the point where they are just making it up. I don't mind the argument on whether or not the Constitution should be " a living, breathing document" so much as I am irked by the dishonesty in interpretation of what the Founding Fathers' intentions were.

When one chooses to not be Christian...freedom of religion demands that they enjoy freedom from the demands of that religion.

Acknowledging Christian values as part of our collective national cultural heritage is not all that demanding. I hardly feel at all oppressed in this country of ours.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 11:09:00 PM  

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