The Americans Trying to Ban Christmas

21:01Ciaran McCormick

 The festive season is drawing closer and beginning to fill us with a joyful spirit. However, in Texas an unpleasant divide is bubbling up at Christmastime. It cuts right to the heart of insecure American identities. In fact, it started a while back in June, as far away from Christmas as you can possibly go. Governor Rick Perry passed the so-called 'Merry Christmas' bill protecting public institutions like schools when they want to celebrate Christmas and other religious occasions. The thinking was that Christians should be able to say Merry Christmas, decorate a tree and sing carols without other religions claiming that they were interfering with their religious rights. Nonetheless, a school has gone and banned Christmas trees and the colours red and green from their holiday celebrations. This is exploding the political-correctness-gone-mad brigade. It exposes the religious and cultural tension in a diverse but divided America.



The 'Merry Christmas bill' has been defended staunchly by the right-wing press as enabling religious freedom. Fox News pointed to some examples of people being nervous of mentions of Christmas for fear of litigation. For example, they claim that cheerleaders from Kountze High School, East Texas. were prevented from showing banners with bible verses at football games. Schools were apparently erecting 'holiday trees' rather than Christmas ones. Incidents like these fed the fuel of conservative outrage. The bill passed easily through the state's legislature and received both Democrat and Republican support.

As to be expected, the law is beginning to face its first major challenges now that Christmas has come around again. Nichols Elementary School in Texas has recently been exposed as the first to break the law's provisions. They planned to hold a 'Winter Party' but reports claimed that an email was circulated to parents from the Parent-Teacher Association that there were to be some unusually stringent rules in place. Students and parents were to be banned from discussing Christmas or other religious or secular holidays and Christmas trees and the colours red and green were to be banned. The murky details are hotly disputed, though, with the school and PTA denying these claims. The idea that they can ban colours seems rather far-fetched. However, I believe that the significance of this debate and these controversies is that they are raking up so much strong feeling on both sides.

It tells you a lot about the liberal and conservative divide in America. Those on the right are constructing liberals as 'others' who are trying to steal Christmas and their freedoms. There are some clear signs here that the Christian identity in America feels like it is under threat. The fact that they are claiming their rights are under attack jars with the reality in most American states that to be a Christian gives you a set of social privileges. You are not treated as different by your peers because of your customs or the clothes you wear. You are also able to feel a part of these holiday customs because they are so intertwined with religion.

However, the way that they complain about feeling under threat from the disadvantaged people from secular or alternative religious backgrounds speaks volumes. It is the same with men's rights movements claiming feminists are taking rights away from them or heterosexuals and cisgender people complaining about the aggressive homosexual agenda. It is about a privileged group of people who are considered normal unable to adjust to the heterogeneity of a multicultural, global society. It is difficult to believe that liberals and lefties are trying to steal Christmas but it should not be necessary for laws to be implemented defending it. It exposes the tensions and cleavages at work in modern America. I chose the title of this article 'The Americans Trying to Ban Christmas' for a reason. It reflects the sensationalism that tugs at the emotions of everyone involved in this ridiculous episode.

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