Monday, December 13, 2004

Merry Xmas

It’s the silly season, and it kicked off with this bit of news from down under:
The lord mayor of Australia's largest city was under fire Friday over a decision to limit spending on Christmas celebrations, a move some critics see as an attempt to avoid offending non-Christian immigrant communities.

Christians have decried the trend to play down the importance of the season as anything other than a time of consumerism and overindulgence, with all references to the Christian message removed.
Then this news item about a kindergarten in Oregon caught my eye:
Kindergartners at a public school in Oregon were invited to bring cards to a Christmas party, but a teacher barred one student from distributing his holiday greeting because it mentioned Jesus Christ, prompting a lawsuit filed yesterday.

The Gresham-Barlow district near Portland said Justin Cortez could not distribute the Christmas card because it would violate district policies prohibiting school officials from promoting one religion over another and advocating a particular religious position.

The Virginia-based American Center for Law and Justice filed the case on behalf of 6-year-old Justin and his mother Julie Cortez.
I don't think it's any surprise considering this has been going on for some years. Still, all these hint at more things to come, so it was interesting to know that at least in Arizona the Alliance Defense Fund has a pamphlet that explains a Christian's first amendment rights in the US. It's pretty tragic if you need something like this to tell folks it's okay to say Merry Christmas regardless of legal threats from the ACLU.

But what happens when the marginalisation of Christmas rears its ugly head in KL as reported in this recent news item?
The government has imposed an unofficial ban on all Christian religious symbols and hymns that specifically mention Jesus Christ at a national-level Christmas do slated for Dec 25 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, said several church leaders.

Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God while Islam teaches believers that he is a prophet.

Kuala Lumpur-based Catholic Research Centre director Rev Father OC Lim has lodged a formal complaint with the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), the government’s liaison partner in organising the open house event that is expected to draw a crowd of between 30,000 and 40,000.

In a strongly-worded letter to CFM dated Nov 24, he stated his objections to the organisers’ “explicit and deliberate exclusion and prohibition” to include any Christmas carols bearing the name of Jesus Christ.

“To exclude (such) carols and to use (Christmas) for political gain is outrageous, scandalous and sacrilegious,” he said when met today.

Lim was more upset that church leaders had “condoned and sanctioned” the organisers’ decision despite the Holy Scripture proclaiming Jesus’s name as being “above all other names”.
I’m supposed to be mature enough to understand why it's inevitable without getting hot and bothered, but I am hot and bothered.

It’s one thing to rationalize it away as the PC thing to do in the interest of religious sensitivities, but where do you draw the line? The reality is, Malaysia has ordinances and laws that are used to prosecute those who insult Islam or hurt the sensitivities of Muslims.

In view of this, shouldn't Christians agree to keep their views out of the marketplace and the public square - to the extent of compromise even in public religious gatherings sanctioned by the authorities? 1 Peter 2:17 calls on believers to, "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." The question is, how do you make sense of of this injunction and give it public expression without selling out your faith?


Agent Sillyboots said...

man, i tell ya what, it's getting to where Christians just have to keep quiet about all aspects of our faith while others can dance in the streets and laugh at Jesus and those who believe in Him. great post, man.


David BC Tan said...

...and it's not going to get any better! thanks for visiting.