Another letter about the Baxter County nativity scene: Diane McLane.

Another letter about the Baxter County nativity scene: Diane McLane. January 14, 2014

The letters keep pouring in from religious people who think if the government doesn’t give them exclusive rights to government property then they are somehow oppressed and forbidden from celebrating Christmas.  And Communism.  Communism everywhere.  If you need to get up to speed, click here to read about a County Judge in Baxter County giving Christians space on the courthouse lawn but denying atheists.

Here’s a letter from today (my thoughts when reading it are in red):

From Diane McLane, Mountain Home:

It has been built into our foundation and growth as a nation to have respect for the common people, including their traditions and customs [It has?  Splendid.  My tradition is to pee on nativity scenes.  I doubt Diane-the-Offended will have much respect for my tradition.  I suspect that’s because decency and fairness are far more important than traditions and customs.  So let’s not pretend like equal representation takes a backseat to her traditions]. That certainly includes Christmas, which is an integral part of American culture [one can only wonder why we have laws if traditions supercede them].

Along with that, Americans fervently believe in majority rule (not rule by the mob and not rule by a few elites) [Unintentional irony alert: majority rule, as Diane uses it – the majority getting their way despite what the laws say – is mob rule]. In being accountable to a majority of the people, government officials must respect the culture and innocent customs of the people and not run roughshod over them [It’s the job of government officials to obey the law, even if a bunch of Christians feel like they should be able to break it with impunity – and even if getting their way regardless of what the law says to acquire special privileges over everybody else is their “innocent custom”.  The Bill of Rights was conceived not to give the majority unilateral power, but to protect the minority specifically from those who thought their majority status earned them, specifically, the government’s power.  Why else would Bill of Rights guarantee religious liberty to everybody and not just to the majority?  Diane McLane couldn’t pass an 8th grade Civics course.]. And our culture and customs — including our custom of Christmas — are made up of many things, starting with our history [And nobody objects to most of those things.  But if your custom involved using government space while everybody else is excluded, then we’re going to butt heads].

Our history — the history of Western civilization that includes Europe and America — dates from the estimated time that Jesus Christ was born in the world [Thursday is named after Thor]. Our time is divided into B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (“anno Domini,” “in the year of our Lord”) [January is named after Janus, the god of doors and gates]. Our civilization is filled with Christianity [Yes, and references to other gods.  Why does this grant any of them exclusive access to government land?]. It has been the ultimate high standard that we haven’t lived up to [Abraham is considered a good man in Christianity for being willing to become a murderer at god’s command.  That’s a pretty piss poor standard, not the ultimate high standard]. But in reaching for it, we’ve been far more civilized and blessed than people were before true Christianity reached them [The people writing into the Bulletin are contemptuous of foreigners, paranoid, ignorant of law and civics, but eager to render their opinion as if it should be listened to.  “Civilized” is not the word that has leaped to mind.  There was a time when Christianity ran the show: it was called the Dark Ages for a reason].

Christianity, including Christmas, gave us great and beautiful art, music, literature, theatre, movies and more [No, people did that.  And people, Christian people, also have a lengthy history of hindering art by forbidding any that offends their religious sensibilities (often by pain of death).  Christians still try to censor artists to this day if their work doesn’t conform to Christianity.  I’ve written about how the Catholic Church delayed the discovery of tonal music by centuries], which help to make up our culture. Christmas gave us delightful customs and traditions enjoyed by people for centuries — wonderful Christmas carols, lights, decorations, festivities and generous giving [Well shoot, then I guess Christians get to break the law and get special privileges that other people do not.  If that’s not Diane’s logical leap, I’m not sure what she’s getting at].

Christmas has been woven into our culture and has stirred our imaginations to create a wealth of magic, wonder, and awe of things that are higher than we are [We get it, you like Christmas.  When were you going to get around to explaining why that gets you more rights to government land than your neighbors?]. It has inspired us with manger scenes, nativity plays, “Away in a Manger” and “Joy to the World.” It has enchanted us with dazzling Christmas trees, Charlie Brown, “The Grinch that Stole Christmas,” and just-for-fun songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Woe to us, as it is said in “The Chronicles of Narnia,” if it is “always winter and never Christmas” [Yes, then we’d have to sing songs, be generous, have family time, build snowmen, and all that stuff without hearing about how great Christ and his genocidal dad were.  How would we ever get by?]!

Christmas, like the Fourth of July, is part of who we are as Americans [No it’s not.  Some people don’t celebrate Christmas in lieu of other holidays and they are just as American as you.  How disrespectful of other people’s traditions and customs to insist that they must abide by yours in order to be an American.  And since you’ve already told us that “It has been built into our foundation and growth as a nation to have respect for the common people, including their traditions and customs” I guess we can conclude, by her own standard, that Diane McClane is not a true American.  Go back to Communist Russia, hippie!]. Our traditional holidays are enjoyed by a majority and are not inherently offensive to anyone [Which is why the AHA’s letter demanded all manger scenes, Christmas trees, and decorations throughout the County come down.  Wait, they just wanted County Judge Pendergrass to let the atheists have as much space on government land as Christians and they don’t give a fuck about how people celebrate the holidays on their own land/time?  Fancy that].

We cherish our First Amendment right to freely express our religious convictions and sentiments and the right of others to agree or disagree with us [You have a right to express your convictions so long as they don’t run afoul of the law/Constitution.  If you chose to celebrate Christmas by kidnapping your neighbor’s infant, you still get charged for kidnapping.  And if you want to express yourself by monopolizing government property, you still lose an equal representation lawsuit]. One of the five different rights that are granted to us by the First Amendment provides that government may not prohibit the free expression of religion [Yes it does.  Which is why you should be offended when the government told the atheists they couldn’t have the same space as Christians.  Hypocrite]. Government officials, including local ones, must uphold this constitutional law and not yield to pressure to do otherwise [By giving space to Christians, but denying atheists, your elected officials have ignored the Constitution.  You’re writing in defense of the people doing exactly what you said they shouldn’t]. No one has the right to stifle harmless, heartfelt expressions of faith [Unless they’re not willing to let other faiths do the same], along with customs that the majority of Americans want to keep [Christians keep bleating on about how they’re the majority as if rights aren’t available to everybody – like the right to equal representation by their government].

That includes manger scenes by the local courthouse [And Winter Solstice banners.  Can’t wait to read your letter about how the banner should be allowed based on a lot of the *ahem* “reasoning” you used in your letter].

Don’t worry.  I’m sure her faith will get around to making her a more reasonable person any second now.

Here’s what a friend of mine sent me while we both had a chuckle at Diane’s expense:

“It has been built into our foundation and growth as a nation to have respect for the common people, including their traditions and customs.”  Exactly right…which is why you INCLUDE on the courthouse square customs and traditions of more than just Christians. Christians aren’t the only “common people”.  What do you see on the square that speaks for non-Christian “common people”?  I see exactly nothing.

“Along with that, Americans fervently believe in majority rule….”  Americans believe in EQUAL RIGHTS for ALL citizens. Do you see anyone other than Christians getting equal access to the square?  I don’t. The “majority rule” dog don’t hunt. Just because there are more brown eyed people than blue people doesn’t mean that blue eyed people don’t get equal treatment from their government or equal space on the courthouse lawn.

“…..government officials must respect the culture and innocent customs of the people and not run roughshod over them.”  Exactly how are government officials respecting the culture and innocent customs of non-Christians?  They’re  “people” too, you know? I don’t see government officials respecting anything, I see them promoting their preferred religion and excluding all other voices from the public square.

“Christmas has been woven into our culture and has stirred our imaginations….”  This doesn’t give the local government legal right to use the local courthouse to promote Christianity and to exclude everyone else. YOUR culture isn’t the culture of ALL CITIZENS.

“We cherish our First Amendment right to freely express our religious convictions and sentiments and the right of others to agree or disagree with us.”  We certainly do. All of us do. Not just Christians. Also, YOU are welcome to express it as much as you want. The problem comes in when the GOVERNMENT endorses one religion and excludes all other points of view from the public square.

“Government officials, including local ones, must uphold this constitutional law and not yield to pressure to do otherwise.”  Exactly right. Established constitutional jurisprudence for generations is clearly on the side of  separation of church and state, and the local government officials   must uphold this constitutional law and not yield to pressure—from people like you— to do otherwise.

No one is stopping you from celebrating Christmas 365 days a year if you wish. The problem is that the local government officials won’t share the square.

It’s fascinating.  If religion makes people better, how come we have to keep going to court against them to protect equality?  And how come we have to keep explaining basic concepts to religious people?  Maybe religion just takes a while to get going…

Or maybe it perpetuates ignorance while increasing confidence.

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