A quick religion test

A Christmas tree is representative of:

A) Christmas
B) Easter
C) Ramadan
D) Washington’s Birthday

Answer: A.

Christmas is:

A) A Christian holiday
B) A Jewish holiday
C) A Muslim holiday
D) A pagan holiday

Answer: A.

Christmas trees are to Christmas as:

A) Eggs are to Easter
B) Turkey is to Thanksgiving
C) Oil-fried foods are to Chanukah
D) All of the above

Answer: D.

The argument that Sea-Tac’s Christmas tree was secular, and therefore not evocative of the Christian holiday of Christmas is:

A) Disingenuous
B) Full of crap
C) Bullshit
D) Bunk
E) All of the above

Answer: E.

The responses to the Sea-Tac Christmas Tree Episode are:

A) Overreactions
B) Jew-hatred
C) Jew-hatred
D) Jew-hatred
E) All of the above.

Answer: E.

Peace on earth and good will towards all men, my ass.

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47 Responses to A quick religion test

  1. Chris L. says:

    The hate-mail that the rabbi has received is despicable. People will look for any non-excuse for spouting their anti-semitic beliefs.

    The core of this issue for me though isn’t so much the religion, but politics (and lawyers). I thought Mark Steyn had a good take on it yesterday (and an interesting piece on “White Christmas” and Irving Berlin this morning).

  2. The Hate mail the Rabbi got is terrible. But I also do not think he was right in threatening to sue if he did not get his Menorah included.

    A Christmas tree has no religious significance to the Christian Faith.

    Personally I believe that SeaTac should have allowed the Christians to have a Nativity Scene there, and then given the Jewish community a choice of whether they would rather have a Menorah for Hanukkah, or some other display on Passover, or Rosh Hashanah, or whatever other Jewish holiday they wanted.

    And if they would then allow the Christians a display with a Cross on Easter, that they could give the Jewish community a right to have a display on some other Jewish holiday.

  3. A dreidel has more religious signifiance than a Christmas tree, a fat guy in a red suit, a rabbit, or some decorated eggs.

  4. Jan says:

    Don, in 20+ years of federal service, I learned that discrimination is in the eye of the receiver, not the alleged “doer.” As a Jew, I can tell you Christmas trees are NOT secular. You can decide if they are Christian or not, I supposed, but they are not representative of Americans at large. As one of the Americans they are not representative of, I am qualified to make that statement. Now, if the Christmas trees in the airport don’t keep me from flying or cause me to send hate mail to ministers, why would it be okay for anyone to be bothered by a candelabra representative of my faith and send hate mail to a rabbi? A rabbi who did NOT ask that the trees come down.

  5. So you’re saying that people put up Christmas trees in, say, July?

    Let’s be honest here. Christmas trees are not secular objects. They are eminently representative of Christmas. Christmas is not a secular holiday.

    The origin of the Christmas tree is moot. It’s what perception is now that counts. When people see decorated fir trees in airports in November and December, they’re not thinking “Happy Holidays.”

    It really doesn’t matter that the tree has no true religious significance. It’s a Christmas tree. Christmas. Not “holiday.”

  6. Chris L. says:

    Indeed, what makes this complicated, apart from the legal question, is the meaning of Christmas in America itself (which in turn has raised the question of Hanukkah’s meaning alongside of Christmas – see Janet Tu’s article from the JWR last week). In my mind, the American Christmas is both a religious and a secular seasonal holiday. In Mark Steyn’s column on “White Christmas” I mentioned above, he talks about how Irving Berlin would go over to the O’Hara’s house and play under their tree and eat their non-kosher food – a Jew playing under an Irish family’s Christmas tree in the Lower East Side. How American is that? The fact is that the American Christmas, with its multinational origin, became last century a religious holiday for believers and a general celebration for everyone else, Christian and non-Christian alike.

    That’s why, Meryl, I think you offer one contradiction. You’re right, the tree has become an emminent symbol of Christmas, but precisely because of its secularization (for Catholics, the eminent religious symbol for Christmas is probably the advent wreath or the Nativity). That’s why the Court in Allegheney vs. ACLU felt that it could rule the tree (and the menorah) to be secular symbols – and spark off a whole other debate.

    And incidentally, I understand more people are calling them “holiday trees.”

  7. The only religious signifance to Christmas Tree would be to Druids; they were used in their winter festival.

    Eggs and rabbits (fertility) have nothing to do with Easter either. They come from the festival of Eastre which was celebrated by the Pagans on the vernal equinox.

    I really don’t care if you call it a Hanukkah Bush. And it did not originate in America; it came from Germany.

    It is associated by the secularists with Christmas

    Jan, I never said the Rabbi asked for the trees to come down

    I would be happy for you to have a candelabra there; I don’t even mind if it has 7 candlesticks (I know Jews hace menorahs with a different number of candles, but I don’t know their signifance. I know why the Hanukkah menorah has seven.)

    But let me have a Nativity scene, and not some stupid secular tree.

    And if your faith was limited to selecting one holiday to decorate for, would you really waste it on the minor holiday Hanukkah, just because we were celebrating Christmas around the same time, or would uou prefer to display something for Passover or Rosh Hashanah, or some other major Jewish holiday

  8. ilyka says:

    he talks about how Irving Berlin would go over to the O’Hara’s house and play under their tree and eat their non-kosher food – a Jew playing under an Irish family’s Christmas tree in the Lower East Side. How American is that?

    It’s very sadly American in the sense of how America has traditionally operated: The majority has traditionally demanded that the minority adapt to their customs and, to borrow from your example, eat their non-kosher food–rather than doing anything gracious or kind such as preparing kosher food for their guests who are Jewish.

    Now that would in fact be a Christian thing to do, which is why it’s awfully funny how seldom I see Christians suggest solutions and compromises in that vein–like, say, enthusiastically supporting a menorah display at Sea-Tac, along with those crazy Pagan Trees that are coincidentally displayed around the time of a major Christian holiday, yet somehow remain magically, perfectly secular.

    No, instead Christians just complain about that mean ol’ Rabbi. But it is totally not anti-Semitic, at all, when they do.

    Thanks for setting Meryl straight on that one! I really did not know what we were going to do with her if she didn’t come around to the Christian viewpoint. ;)

  9. Tatterdemalian says:

    “It’s very sadly American in the sense of how America has traditionally operated: The majority has traditionally demanded that the minority adapt to their customs and, to borrow from your example, eat their non-kosher food–rather than doing anything gracious or kind such as preparing kosher food for their guests who are Jewish.”

    Quite correct. Without that pressure, there would be no United States of America, just fifty (or more) independent little countries, bickering at each other like Eastern Europe does, and probably with an even greater frequency of antisemitic pogroms.

    Multiculturalism’s cures are almost always worse than the disease. They can only be implemented in a realistic way by eliminating all cultures, simply because the effort to ensure perfectly equal representation of all cultures, all by itself, would make impossible to do anything else, like run an airport.

    As the Sea-Tac representative said, “This is our busiest time of year, and we do not have time to play cultural anthropologists.”

  10. Don, the hanukkiah, also known as a Hanukka menorah, has at least eight candlesticks to signify the eight days that the oil lasted. A menorah often has seven candlesticks. A hanukkiah is a menorah, but a menorah is not necessarily a hanukkiah.

    But this is all besides the point. The Christmas tree, whatever its origins, is a recognizable and recognized representation of Christmas. It doesn’t matter that many people consider it secular or pagan. When you take a fir tree, cover it with baubles, garlands, and lights, it is completely associated with the holiday of Christmas.

    You can bend yourself into pretzels all you like on this one, a Christmas tree is still a Christmas tree, and it only comes out around Christmas time.

    I think I may not have been clear enough on the point of my post. It was supposed to be about the reaction to the rabbi after the tree was taken down.

    Funny, for such a secular symbol, it sure did raise an awful lot of anger from a lot of people all over the world.

    Christians every one of them, no doubt.

    Funny how close to the surface the Jew-hatred is, even after 2000 years.

    That’s why there’s an Israel, folks. Because even though I like Don and Chris, and believe them to be good people, and even trust them completely and believe that there is not a prejudiced bone in their bodies—they’re not the ones I have to worry about.

    I have to worry about the jerks who wrote the hatemail to ALL of the synagogues in the Seattle area. Not just the rabbi. Any representative of Judaism in the area was inundated with hate.

    All over a “secular” symbol that has nothing to do with Christmas.

  11. Chris L. says:

    I don’t know what the economic status of the O’Hara family was, but if they were working-class Irish living in the Lower East Side, I’d say they weren’t exactly in the “majority.” They may have not even known what Kosher was. If you had asked my great-grandparents what Kosher was as they came off the boat, they probably wouldn’t have known either. As to what young Irving Berlin’s motivation was for going to the O’Hara house, maybe he liked them. Maybe he liked the food, and that’s why he went. Maybe Berlin kept Kosher at home anyway. I don’t know. I was just citing a column, my point having been to illustrate an example of cultural (not necessarily religious) assimilation (without which, whether you cite forced examples or not, there’d be no New York). Irving Berlin in turn gave Christians, and all Americans, “White Christmas,” a poignant song about home.

    And it wasn’t my intention to “set Meryl straight.” In fact, I agreed with her point regarding the tree’s eminence as a Christmas symbol, but for a different reason. As I said, I believe the tree is both a Christian religious symbol and a secular symbol – which, if I’m not mistaken, was the SCOTUS opinion in the late 1980s (i.e. Judge Blackmun’s the-tree-and-the- menorah-are-religious-but-secular enough).

    Also, just to throw this out there, is to disagree with what the rabbi did anti-Semitic? I’m not talking about hate-mail or name-calling. That IS anti-Semitic. But what about Rabbi Weiner and other memebers of the Seatlle Jewish community who might think public menorahs cheapen the celebration of Hanukkah anyway.?

    BTW, I haven’t even given my opinion as to whether or not I think Sea-Tac should have put up a menorah. My comments on this thread have merely been about the culture of Christmas and the tree, so don’t assume that you know my opinion regarding Sea-Tac.

  12. Chris L. says:

    And by the way, Sea-Tac needs to change its name. It sounds like some fancy-shmancy submarine from a third-rate underwater sci-fi series.

  13. Sea-Tac Airport is called that because it’s the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

    I lived out there for about six months during a year I took off from college. The name seems totally normal to me.

    Nice airport, too. It was one of the more modern ones even back in the, uh, never mind what decade.

  14. Chris L. says:

    See, I think Seattle-Tacoma would sound better. Sea-Tac…oh, I dunno. :-)

  15. wolfa says:

    It is amazing how many people who are Christian, or Christianish, are out there claiming that, no, really, this symbol is totally religion-neutral! It is, perhaps, on its way there, but it’s not there until most people of *other* religions agree. And they don’t.

    It might not have religious significance in the same way the Chanukiah (which, as Meryl points out, doesn’t have 7 candlesticks, so no one can possibly know why it has 7) does, but it certainly has religious associations.

    I will say that I *do not care* if there are Christmas trees and Christmas lights all over, with or without a token nod to other holidays. I think they’re pretty, and I like to see them. I just wish people would quit pretending they’re totally neutral! Nothing about Christmas here, no sirree!

    Why must we say Merry Christmas for one entire month? I refuse to say it except (a) on Dec 24, (b) on Dec 25 and (c) when it will most irritate my grandparents. I don’t get Happy New Year until maybe the 30th, usually the 31st.

    As to the responses to him: yes, they’re anti-Semitic. Telling a Jew that he is wrong and that Christmas trees are Jewish, too, is anti-Semitic. Disagreeing with his suing the airport is not anti-Semitic, I don’t think; disagreeing with his request to have the airport be marginally more balanced is.

  16. Tatterdemalian says:

    Like I keep saying, Israel must never give up its right to exist. The US is a secular Christian nation, not a Jewish one, and while I would fight and die to protect innocent Jews, or anyone else, from unfair persecution, I’m still just a single, mortal, and not even particularly popular man.

    I can see many of my former liberal friends starting to agree with the likes of David Duke, believing in their hearts that this is a sign of his redemption, rather than of their own corruption. For they are socialists, and therefore absolutely incorruptible, with free license to be as beastly to their fellow Americans as they like, because their intentions are so pure.

  17. Meryl, I apologize for the confusion of 7 vs 8. I knew it was the number of days the oil lasted, but I thought I remembered 7 candles.

    The tree is a symbol of the secular interpretation of the Christmas Holiday.

    The people who were upset at its disappearance are the same ones that write Xmas instead of Christmas.

    What I would like to see is a Nativity scene in SeaTac in celebration of Christmas, and I would be very happy to give the Jewish community an opportunity to set up a display on whatever Jewish holiday they choose.

    If they elected to erect a hanukkiah at the same time my Nativity scene was up, that would be fine with me. I don’t object to the Secular Humanists having their Christmas Trees up. And if they elected to instead select a more major Jewish holiday, and erect something on that holiday, that I might learn more about what you were celebrating, as you learned about what I held dear, then that would be equally ok with me.

    And if I can display a Cross around Easter time, I will put up with the Secular Humanist’s bunnies and eggs, and I will look forward to a Jewish display on some other Jewish Holiday: Passover or Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur or whatever else the local Jewish establishment chooses.

    You seem to have more holidays than we do (Catholics have a bunch, but for Protestants there really are just two), but I think it would be interesting for Christians to learn about the meaning behind Sukkot one year, Shavu’ot the next, then Shemini Atzeret or Simchat Torah, etc.

    People fear the unknown. I don’t expect you to accept Christ just because I celebrate his birth on Christmas and his death and resurection on Easter, just as I would think you were seeking to convert me to Judiasm when you explain to us what Atonement means on Yom Kippur, who Judah Maccabee was, and why it was such a miracle for the oil to last eight nights, who Esther was, and what you do on Purim. We know something of the Passover, from the old Testament, but it does not hurt us to be reminded of it, and what each of the items on the plate signify.

    But please don’t tell me that decorated fir trees and fat men in red suits have anything to do with the religious celebration of Christmas, any more than bunny rabbits and decorated eggs have anything to do with Easter. They are secular symbols, and it is the Secular Humanists that want to rid society of any religious celebrations that are pushing them down both of our throats.

  18. Ilyka,
    You need to get out more! I am a Catholic and I look forward to the Seders I get to share with my Jewish friends. I say the prayers, eat the food, etc. And I also like Eydi Noruz. Many Christian denominations encourage participating with Jewish families these days.

  19. ilyka says:

    Ilyka,
    You need to get out more!

    I can’t argue with that, DT. :)

  20. Ron O says:

    Don, I’m a secular humanist. It’s funny that you blame us for pushing secular religious symbols down the religious throats. We don’t care that much; we’re not another religion. As far as most of us are concerned a Nativity scene and a Christmas tree are both symbols of Christmas, whatever their origins. If you must blame someone for the secularization of Christmas, blame retailers, marketers, and those who don’t take their religion as seriously as you. Leave us, non-religious out of it. I’m not particularly bothered by religious displays, but I think if one group is allowed, all groups should be allowed as well, including but not limited to Jews, Jains, Wiccans, Shiites, Sunnis, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Native Tribal religions or Scientologists. Anything less is privileging one religion over another.

  21. Ilyka, I would totally invite you to my Seder if we lived anywhere near each other. And maybe to Rosh Hashana dinner, too.

  22. Jews who have come to North America from the former USSR have brought with them the Russian secular tradition of the “New Years Tree”, with “Grandfather Frost” and his granddaughter “Snowgirl”. We put it up after Christmas, and you would not believe the good deals one gets for coniferous trees after December 25. It may have had Christian origins at one point or another, but it doesn’t any more, not in our community. It hasn’t had any religious significance in Russia for at least 90 years.

    This is the difference between the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene. It is impossible to re-image the Nativity as a generic North American tradition, because it has the baby Jesus in it. The Christmas tree might have been a representation of Jesus’s life eternal or some such at one point, but it isn’t any more. It has been re-imaged as a holiday tree in some communities already, and is being re-imaged as a holiday tree in other communities even as we speak.

    Encouraging people to continue this transformation is “good for the Jews”. A celebration of family togetherness, Santa Claus, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” presents, “The Christmas Carol,” and gaining 15 lbs in a month is something we can all get behind. A celebration of the birth of baby Jesus is something completely different. Asking our neighbours to take the latter out of the public sphere is fair and easy to defend. Asking them to get rid of the former is just Scrodgly.

  23. Ron O, according to the Supreme Court, Secular Humanism is a religion.

    Regarding your statement “Jews, Jains, Wiccans, Shiites, Sunnis, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Native Tribal religions or Scientologists should be included I believe there should be some minimum size, like 10%, but in an area with 10% of the population being of a certain faith, I would be happy to see them get together to provide a display on their most important holiday. But saying it must be all or none says it must be what the Secular Humanists want, and while they may be growing, they are still a definite minority”

  24. KMTBerry says:

    But please don’t tell me that decorated fir trees and fat men in red suits have anything to do with the religious celebration of Christmas, any more than bunny rabbits and decorated eggs have anything to do with Easter. They are secular symbols, and it is the Secular Humanists that want to rid society of any religious celebrations that are pushing them down both of our throats.

    HEY HEY HEY there, WHOA, hold on a Minute! Secular Humanists don’t push these symbols down the throats of religious people!

    The actual fact is: as much as Christinaity has TRIED to come up with fun holidays and symbols that people like, and has TRIED to GRAFT Christian Holidays onto Pagan ones, People of European descent tend to feel more comfortable and more FESTIVE about the “Old” ways. People just LIKE the idea of a fat guy in a red suit coming to the house to leave gifts for the children MORE than they like the idea of a supernatural baby being born to poor people (I’m NOT saying they are RIGHT to prefer it, they just DO). People PREFER to decorate a tree with baubles and lights, and burn a yule log, and drink eggnog, and any number of pre-Christian traditions.

    There aren’t any secular humanists holding guns to anyone’s heads. I personally think that calling Thanksgiving (a reasonable Holiday in ANY culture, a Day of Thanks) TURKEY DAY is abhorrent; but people have shown that the Feast part is the part they like and find festive, not the prayers.

    People just aren’t very religious when it comes right down to it. People DO like partying and hanging around with their families and eating special holiday treats, though.

    (Is there a SINGLE major Christian holiday that doesn’t have it’s associated food component?)

  25. Ron O says:

    Saying a Christmas tree is secular is also saying it is what Christians say it is.

    Actually, you’d probably call me an atheist. I don’t really care for that description, since it describes my beliefs as the absence of the divine, whereas I prefer to describe it as focused on the here and now. So, Humanist or Secular Humanist will do, though the secular is redundant IMO.

    AS far as SH goes, sure some people successfully argued that in an attempt to get some legal standing for their beliefs to be heard. But we have no church, no symbols, no tithes, no hierarchy, etc. I don’t get together with other humanist to profess my (lack of) faith.

    I certainly don’t want Christmas to become even more secular. I’d like it if it was a Christian holiday celebrated on Dec. 25, by Christians. It is ridiculous to suggest that non-Christians are the ones who have assumed everyone else wants to celebrate their holy day. If you don’t like the way Christmas has been cheapened, don’t blame the non-Christians.

    I disagree about the 10% threshold. Are the religious beliefs of the minority, even a small minority, not worthy of respect?

  26. Saying a Christmas tree is secular is also saying it is what Christians say it is.

    The logic of that escapes me.

    It is not a religious symbol of Christianity, but it is associated with Christmas so it must be a secular symbol, along with obese guy in the red suit.

    But we have no church, no symbols, no tithes, no hierarchy, etc.

    So its a cheap, disorganized religion. <grin>

    I’d like it if it was a Christian holiday celebrated on Dec. 25, by Christians.

    It is. The month long secular / commercialization is unrelated to the religious signifance.

    I disagree about the 10% threshold. Are the religious beliefs of the minority, even a small minority, not worthy of respect?

    Worth of respect yes. Worth of being accomidated in a public display, no. I might be willing to drop the number to 5%, but no lower

  27. Ron O says:

    The main point I want to make, which you have sidestepped, is you should stop blaming non-christians for the secularization of your religious holiday. You did that when you said “They are secular symbols, and it is the Secular Humanists that want to rid society of any religious celebrations that are pushing them down both of our throats.” We’re not the ones responsible for that. You need to clean your own house.

    Furthermore, if you want to bring your private religious beliefs into the public square, you have to accept that some are going to object and others are going to want thier religion publicized as well. As long as we don’t have a state religion, but public displays of religion are allowed, it should be open to all religions, otherwise the state is favoring some religions over others. We already have criteria for recognizing a religion and it doesn’t involve numbers nearly as high as 5%. If 3 individuals operating as a religion want to put up a display in a public space to celebrate their holy day, I can live with that. It can’t be ay worse than a 2 month Christmaas season.

  28. you said “They are secular symbols, and it is the Secular Humanists that want to rid society of any religious celebrations that are pushing them down both of our throats.” We’re not the ones responsible for that. You need to clean your own house.

    They definitely are secular symbols.

    Christians would love to see Nativity Scenes, but someone is pushing the secular symbols to the exclusion of the religious symbology. It is not the Christians. And I have said I don’t objrct to Jewish symbology (after all, Jesus was born a Jew). So who is it, other than the SP.

    I certainly don’t mind both, but I do not like seeing just the secular symbols on a religious holiday.

    In televised public debates the sponsors always invite the Democratic Candidate and the Republican one, and ocasionaly the will invite a third party candidate if the polls show he has 10% of the vote. If 10% is fair there, why is drawing the line for access to the public square for faiths with 5% of the population unfair. By insisting that a faith with three members have equal access you seek to allow so many that they will then say no one gets access. I.E. the SP objective.

    a 2 month Christmas season

    That is pushed by the stores. I would be happy with display of Nativity Scenes for a week or two.

  29. Robert says:

    Actually, Jesus was not only born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, and died as a Jew. The problem here, as I see it, is the intolerance of the Secular Progressives, ie, Liberals. They hate anything religious, religion based, or religious themed, the “fairness” thing is simply a red herring. Of course, blaming the Christians is a time-honored tradition, and the SP’s have picked it up as well. I would venture to guess that the “hate-mail” that the Rabbi is receiving is not from Christians…

    Robert

  30. Robert, if you have proof that non-Christian liberals are sending the rabbi hate mail, I’d love to see it. Because my guess is the majority of the hate mail is coming from self-professed Christians. This is a rather educated guess, as I have been reading the comments threads on news sites that have been running the article, and many people who call themselves Christians are saying some pretty hateful anti-Jewish things about the rabbi in particular, and Jews in general.

    I don’t understand why you think that non-Christians would be objecting to the airport taking down Christmas trees. Why would non-Christians give a rat’s ass if a tree was up or down?

    And don’t put hate mail in quotes. It is hate mail. It is anti-Semitism. It isn’t pretend.

    You folks can argue the Christian angle on this all you like. As I said, the thing that concerns me is the naked Jew-hatred that came out over this episode.

    Here. In America. Where Jews tend to think they’re safe from this kind of hate.

  31. Yankev says:

    I am fascinated that the very people who point out — rightly — that Christmas is a religious holiday sacred to Christians, are the very ones who become incensed that not every one wants to celebrate nor to pay for its celebration out of public funds.

    As far as the speculation that the people sending the hate mail are not Christians — well, I’ve heard similar arguments made about the perpetrators of the Crusades (for those who don’t know, the Crusaders, may their names be blotted out, slaughtered defenseless Jews wholesale, entirely wiping out many European Jewish communities) and Holocaust. One can argue whether the Nazis were pagan, but they were all raised Christian, and their willing Christian accomplices in occupied Europe far outnumbered the few Christians who resisted their efforts.

    Perhaps we can agree that the people writing the hate mail are not acting in accordance with Christian teaching. but to claim that the hate mail is coming from secularists eager to give Christianity a bad name is both silly and offensive.

  32. Robert

    Actually, Jesus was not only born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, and died as a Jew.

    True

    The problem here, as I see it, is the intolerance of the Secular Progressives, ie, Liberals.

    There is a difference. Many are both, but there are SPs that are conservatives, and liberals that are not SP

    They hate anything religious, religion based, or religious themed, the “fairness” thing is simply a red herring.

    Not really. Many SP are “multicultural” so have no problem with religious symbols from minority religions, they just hate anything with the major religion. For the US, they would be happy for a menorah and muslim star and moon symbol to be added to a display of Christmas Trees and Santa Clause, but hold the Nativity Scene. And in http://www.yourish.com/2006/12/20/2471 Reuters is upset that Christmas celebration is limited in the Jewish state of Israel. They probably expect Israel to erect a Nativity Scene. Totally foolish. But in both cases it is the major religion that should back down, and honor the minor religions.

    Yourish, no true Christian would be sending that hate mail. An SP that wanted his secular trees restored so that the commercialization of Christmas could continue might have sent them.

    The hate mail was WRONG, for several reasons. One is just that hate mail is wrong, but in this particular case, it is doubly wrong because the rabbi did not ask for the trees to be removed, he just threatened the suit to get his menorah displayed at the same time.

    Yankev, if SeaTac wants to put up secular trees that is fine with me. If they want to let the Rabbi put up a menorah that is fine with me too. I just want them to allow some church to put up a nativity scene. I dont ask for it to be paid for by taxpayer funds, just that the religious groups be allowed to display.

  33. LynnB says:

    Don, Chris and Robert — you can keep talking past the issue all day. You can call CHRISTMAS trees a secular symbol and the menorah, which commemorates a verifiable historic event, the (temporary) liberation of Jerusalem from Greco-Syrian rule, a religious symbol. Fine. Call it what you want. The fact is that the non-Christians in this country are every year exposed, like it or not, to five weeks of ongoing saturation, be it on the radio, the television, the internet, the supermarket, the mall, the sidewalk, the gas station and the hardware store of Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. Whether it’s trees or holly or mistletoe, whether it’s Jingle Bells or White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Santa Claus or (gasp) a nativity scene, it’s CHRISTMAS.

    So to pretend that there’s something malevolent, something pernicious, something hostile to religion or to Christianity in general behind the attempt of a rabbi to suggest that one solitary symbol represtenting a different tradition should be introduced at Sea-Tac, and to further suggest that such a thing couldn’t be considered without introducing a flood of other symbols representing every tradition acknowleged by anyone within a 1000 mile radius of the airport, is absurd and irrational and so another agenda must be behind it. Meryl has proposed the obvious answer. Occam’s Razor. If any of you have an alternative, please suggest it. But trying to divert the discussion to who’s responsible for taking the “Christ” out of Christmas is just introducing a red herring. Maybe an interesting red herring, but not relevant to the topic that Meryl raised in this post.

  34. Jack says:

    Actually, Jesus was not only born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, and died as a Jew.

    Do you really want to go there. I don’t think so. It is a specious argument and in the interest of not totally inflaming this discussion I’ll refrain from a response to that.

    However. I have to agree with Lynn’s comments. It is tiresome, tedious and unnecessary for us to be force fed all of this Xmas crap for weeks on end.

    I don’t care what you celebrate as long as I don’t have to spend all of my days hearing about it.

    There is no war on Xmas and it is downright disingenuous to suggest that there is.

    Furthermore the allegations that the people who are anti religion must be liberal is foolish and not based upon fact.

    There is such a thing as the tyranny of the majority and I won’t sit back and shut up. There are many examples of the majority taking the immoral position, such as slavery, the earth being flat etc.

    The moronic response to the rabbi’s request demonstrates that this country still has some serious issues to deal with.

  35. Chris L. says:

    LynnB,
    And you’re right. When all is said and done, it gets back to the rabbi’s request. For me, trees in public just make things look nice. If the rabbi wants a menorah, I’m all for it. I guess what struck me first…in fact I mentioned it way up in the first post…was the legal aspect of the whole thing. Everyone’s got a lawyer. The rabbi “threatened to sue if the Port of Seattle didn’t add a menorah next to the trees.” Then Sea-Tac has their team – “After consulting with lawyers, port staff believed that adding the menorah would have required adding symbols…” etc. Now as to having to add other religious symbols in case of menorah, for all I know, Sea-Tac may have been counselled in that (I agree it’d be bad advice b/c how many other religious holidays are there this season?). But everyone wants the safest way out. They may have figured instead of going to court (Sea-Tac lawyer saying there wasn’t enough time before the date put forth), they’d accomodate the rabbi by taking the trees down, not “wanting to offend” – which isn’t what the rabbi wanted in the first place. He just wanted to add a menorah alongside the trees. But this is what happens when lawyers get involved. I wonder if the rabbi had not threatened to sue and instead led a delegation of Chabad to meet with the Port authorities earlier, and for either this year or next year plan to put up a menorah, perhaps things may have turned out differently. Of course, if Sea-Tac STILL denied the rabbi’s request, then the onus is totally on the airport. Then the rabbi could probably sue. I just don’t know if it was a wise idea to open up with a lawsuit threat.

  36. LynnB says:

    Chris,

    So it’s interesting that one detail of this story that hasn’t been widely reported is that the rabbi was in negotiations with the airport over this issue for weeks before the lawsuit threat was made (with a week to go before the start of Hanukkah). I heard the airport spokesperson acknowledge this on Fox News the morning after the story broke but I haven’t heard it repeated since.

  37. LynnB, true Christians are not behind the five weeks of ongoing saturation of trees or holly or mistletoe, whether it’s Jingle Bells or White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Santa Claus, it is the businesses that want you to buy buy buy buy buy. I have not seen very many (gasp) Nativity Scenes, have you?. And I notice on Jewish World Review today (http://jewishworldreview.com/1206/saltsman_xmas_movie.php3) that It’s a Wonderful Life is “One holiday movie stands out as a classic of all time and its message is in many ways … Jewish”

    I have absolutely no problem with the Rabbi displaying his Menorrah. Just let a Christian organization display a Nativity Scene. SeaTac does not have to pay for either of them, just let them be added to the decorations. And if the Rabbi wants to provide something for decoration for Passover, let him. Just let a Christian organization provide a Cross for Easter.

    Jack, you may be tired of many weeks of commercialization of Christmas (so am I), but why denigrate the holiday by calling it Xmas? I don’t denigrate your Holy Days.

  38. wolfa says:

    Look, you can dislike xmas all you want, but it’s been used for a thousand years, probably for the Greek letter chi.

    I would be perfectly happy with having various holiday decorations up, as long as any religion (at all) is allowed to put up their own decorations.

    So, anyone who owns their own business isn’t a “true” Christian?

  39. Chris L. says:

    LynnB,
    I hadn’t heard about that. The way the article read made it sound as if the rabbi came in, ready to sue. Hopefully we all can learn more in the coming days (though sadly the New Year has a tendency to bury holiday-period stories).

  40. I would be perfectly happy with having various holiday decorations up, as long as any religion (at all) is allowed to put up their own decorations.

    I believe saying “any religion at all” would get a lot of cults and made-up religions, but I would be happy to see decorations for any religions represented by 10%, or even 5% of the citizens in that particular area.

    So, anyone who owns their own business isn’t a “true” Christian?

    They may be “true” Christians, but they are also businessmen, with an eye on the bottom line. As 1 Timothy 6:10 said For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. and as Hebrews 13:5 said Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

  41. Jack says:

    but why denigrate the holiday by calling it Xmas? I don’t denigrate your Holy Days.

    Don,

    Actually that is an entire post in itself. I am not saying that you (Don) are doing it, but the Christian world has made a point of denigrating my holidays for so long it is not even funny.

    If I blogged about it I can guarantee that I would receive 1000 comments that said that the people I am referring to aren’t Christian.

    There is an accountability issue here. That is part of what bothers me.

    In any case, I’ll apologize if writing Xmas bothers you. It is not intended to be a slight.

  42. Apology accepted.

    And I believe the world would be a whole lot better off if we understood each others faith better, and a very good start to that would be understanding what they are celebrating. I think I know what most of the major ones are celebrating, and I have some idea about some of the minor ones, but others I have not got a clue.

    On Chanukah (or however you spell it), for example, I know about the oil lasting eight days, and I know that Shin, Hey, Gimel, Nun spells out “A Great Miracle Happened There” (I presume they are the first letters of the phrase) but I am not certain what the Dreidel Game has to do with it.

  43. Ron O says:

    Say you get what you wish and your church gets a nativity scene in an airport/mall/city hall somewhere. What is it you hope to accomplish? I don’t think you’ll see people slapping their foreheads saying “Oh no, I forgot this is all about Jesus.”

    But you do run the very real risk of secularizing the image of the Christ child by non-believers. Do you want that image popularized to the point that marketers will hawk their product with it? I there is good reason for Christians to use proxy images, like trees and Santa to show you are in the spirit of the season.

    Another thing to consider is the various attitudes towards icons among various Christian sects. To most mainline Protestants, an icon is just an image without religious meaning beyond it’s usefulness or beauty. Some find it objectionable to revere an image of Jesus. Many Orthodox and Catholic christians highly value icons in their faith. Not all of them would be so pleased to see it on display someplace where it could be easily desecrated.

  44. Ron O says:

    Ok, we cross-posted. That is what you hope to accomplish. Good luck with that. I think a nativity would just become part of the background and get ignored or used for secular purposes. Can you image how tacky soem of those nativities would get? But if that is what the christian community in general wants, I have no problem with it. I still think you get most of your resistance by people who don’t want their sacred images on display in a mall or airport. Frankly it is all pretty much the same to us heathens.

    And I think 5% or 10% is too arbitrary a marker. All religions are made-up in that they are human institutions. You may believe they are inspired devine instrcution (and I respect that), but they are made-up of and by humans just the same. For someone who claims to want to learn more about other religions, calling the smaller, newer ones a cult is a pretty disrespectful way to go about it.

  45. Yankev says:

    Don,

    The Greeks prohibited the teaching of Torah. The Rabbis used the dreidel- a gambling device – instead of books, as a subterfuge to teach, using the letters in their lessons. If caught by the Greeks, the children claimed they were just playing.

    Now, what the Greeks were trying to do, and why it mattered that the oil lasted 8 days — that’s another matter all together, and without knowing about that, you can’t begin to understand what Chanuka is about. But that’s a subject for another and much longer post.

  46. I would rather have a marketer try to make a buck off the Christ child (since will not go too far for fear of not selling to offended Christians), than having an artist dunk Him in urine, or smear feces on His mother.

  47. the very fact that the same people who claim a christmas tree is not a religious symbol and has nothing religious about it get upset when they’re called holiday trees

    christmas trees have become an integral part of a religious holiday, like it or not. the game of musical chairs where christians one moment claim that the subtraction of christmas trees is an attack on christianity and the next claim them as secular objects is downright baffling

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