In the spirit of Christmas charity, let’s assume, if only for the sake of argument, that Tonia Thomas is telling the truth. (Her employer says she’s lying.)
According to Thomas, a Baptist, her employer, a vacation-rental company, wanted her to greet customers with “Happy holidays,” but she insisted on “Merry Christmas.”
I hold my core Christian values to a high standard and I absolutely refuse to give in on the basis of values. All I wanted was to be able to say “Merry Christmas” or to acknowledge no holiday. As a Christian, I don’t recognize any other holidays.
No other holidays? Really? Not New Year’s Day, for example? Presumably what Thomas means is that she doesn’t recognize the holidays of any other religion: that it was important to her to refuse to extend to (e.g.) Jewish customers any recognition that they, too have a celebration at this time of year.
As I read them, the equal employment opportunity laws do not confer on employees a right to be rude to customers. But that hasn’t kept the fundamentalist Liberty Counsel from taking up what seems on its face to be a frivolous claim that Thomas was a victim of religious discrimination when she as (she claims) fired for refusing to say “Happy Holidays.”
Someone should remind Bill O’Reilly (and the other folks who have made an annual ritual of using Christmas to stir up sectarian animosity) that one of the reasons the Puritans came to New England was to escape the celebration of Christmas, which they regarded as un-Scriptural in origin and sacrilegious in practice. (And this was, let us recall, well before the composition of “Jingle Bell Rock” or the introduction of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue.)
It’s not often that I find myself nodding in agreement with the words of Increase Mather, but when the man’s right, he’s right:
The generality of Christmas-keepers observe that festival after such a manner as is highly dishonourable to the name of Christ. How few are there comparatively that spend those holidays (as they are called) after an holy manner.
Nonetheless. let me wish a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, Happy (other) Holidays to those who do not, and a very good New Year to all. We’ve had rather a long string of bad years; maybe we’re due for better.