More “war on Christmas” b.s.

Does Christianity, even fundamentalist Christianity, really forbid greeting the customers at one’s workplace with “Happy Holidays”? Seems unlikely.

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.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: