Saturday, December 09, 2006

Defending Christmas

Christmas - the fightback!

It has been an interesting week with learned journalists, theologians, and politicians lending a hand to fight back over the death of Christmas, leading the way was the Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, in his strongest assault yet on attempts to purge Christianity from public life, Dr Sentamu said secularists were undermining the country's cultural traditions. The Archbishop's comments reflect the growing fury of Church leaders at reports of companies banning Christmas decorations and schools leaving Jesus out of nativity plays.

In The Daily Telegraph he was reported to have said:

"Aggressive secularists are trying to pretend that it is possible to enter into the true meaning of Christmas by leaving out Jesus Christ, The person who is at the heart of the celebration is totally excluded. This really is a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water, or in this case throwing out the crib at Christmas. The aggressive secularists pervert and abuse any notion of diversity for the sake of promoting a narrow agenda. Meanwhile those other faith communities, who have stated categorically they are not offended by Christmas, know that if Christmas falls, they will be next."

While in the same newspaper Jeff Randall writes of his quest to bin all of the cards he has received that bear no religious symolisms of Christmas:

"It's a swipe at those who would prefer to abolish Christmas altogether, in case it offends "minorities". Someone should tell them that, with only one in 15 Britons going to church on Sundays, Christians are a minority. None of the Christmas-less cards that I have received came from a PC nutter. A few were from good friends and business acquaintances. But I rejected them anyway.
It's sad, but I suppose we have become used to ghastly councillors, such as those in Birmingham, trying to rebrand Christmas in favour of something more multi-cultural, even pagan, eg, Winterval. It should come as no surprise that third-rate minds produce only third-rate ideas.
But what I found so shocking this week was a survey from a law firm, Peninsula, revealing that three out of four British employers have banned conventional Christmas decorations, lest they offend employees of other faiths. Bosses, the report said, are worried that they could be - wait for it - sued if they were to allow displays of Christian joy, but not those of other religions. Can they be serious?
If that were not bad enough, the health-and-safety stormtroopers are parking their tanks on our tinsel. Santa's sleighs need seat-belts, and mince pies must be "risk-assessed" before being handed out to children.
Royal Bank of Scotland has told workers not to put decorations near computers, as they could be a fire hazard, or risk injury by standing on desks to hang up holly. It's just as well that the chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, isn't that timid, or the bank would be still be using an abacus in Edinburgh instead of cutting a swath through America. What is the matter with these people?
No, it's not the Muslims, Jews or Hindus who are behind the drive to secularise Christmas. They are not the culprits, the demons in this horror story of crucifying Christmas are white, middle-class do-gooders whose assumption of a superior morality is as disgraceful as it is disgusting. They are busybodies, obsessed with forcing on us their vacuous "ethical" code. In the view of Dr John Sentamu, the splendid Archbishop of York, they are "the chattering classes", who see themselves as holding a flag for an atheist Britain. Actually, they are more pernicious than that. The teachings and guidance of old-fashioned Christianity offend them, so they seek to remove all traces of it from public life."

After two or three weeks where the crucifiction of Christmas has made a few column inches in the newspapers it is good to note that one or two politicians have at last responded to the views of ordinary people and are prepared to offer their own thoughts, which perhaps may help to restore some of our Christian traditions and culture, maybe not this year, but there is hope for next year.

The former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw hit out at those who wished to ban Christmas decorations in the office, he claimed that such politically correct acts were inspired by people wrongly "second-guessing" how sensitive others were about the issue.

"What is forgotten by people who come out with this nonsense is that those of the Muslim faith honour our prophets and those of the Jewish religion as much as they honour their own prophets."

On Wednesday night Gordon Brown condemned Labour's own Sure Start playgroups for replacing their Christmas parties with politically-correct "winter celebrations". The Chancellor said the idea that non-Christians would have been offended was simply wrong. Joining the Campaign for a Real Christmas, Mr Brown, a key architect of the Sure Start policy, said 'no community' in Britain was offended by the celebration of Christmas.

Nicky Kumar from the Sure Start scheme in Hackney said:

"We're not having Christmas parties, our groups are just having parties. It's just a general celebration. We've got quite a few people of different faiths, so we can't just have the one Christmas party when there's all the other faiths."

Last week, Christian and Muslim leaders launched a battle to save the traditions of Christmas from politically-correct interference, warning it risks a backlash against Muslims.

The Christian Muslim Forum said that a Campaign for Real Christmas was needed because, while Christmas causes no offence to minority faiths, banning it offends almost everybody.

So even in South Tyneside, where so far we have not experienced much in the way of anti-Christian secularism, we need to examine carefully the impact of the politically correct busy bodies hell bent on destroying the true message of Christmas, Curly has noted that some of our schools are holding presentations by our youngsters, which we used to call nativity plays, and schools are now either charging a fee for parents to watch their own children, or are banning the use of cameras at these events "to protect copyright." This is because those schools, acting autonomously have decided against using the non-copyrighted biblical texts or gospels to present a nativity play, and instead are using material written by secularists that provides a useful themed message at this time of year. These schools are paying handsomely for the right to use these copyrighted materials which is a rather sad use of their budgets in my view, seeing as the Gospel messages of the birth of Christ come absolutely free of charge!

Phil Cutts our Schools Improvement Team Manager has told me that:

"They can use any source texts they like (although we would of course be concerned if material was in some way offensive to others). Schools are obliged to provide a daily act of collective worship that is "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character". This is a legal requirement and is inspected when Ofsted visits. At Christmas time this will almost universally include the Christmas story. Again, no particular text is prescribed, although the Bible is obviously the original source document. The performances to which parents are invited are not subject to this legal requirement unless the school has decided to combine the event with the daily act of collective worship."

I find it odd that the law of this country can determine that our children's daily acts of worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, yet the law does not protect the traditional nativity play! This is something that we will have to keep an eye on for the future - Christmas will be difficult to protect if secularism is being drip fed to children as young as five!

Recommended reading this weekend - His Grace

It seems it's that time of year again, the annual "pc do gooder liberal lefties are trying to kill Christmas" festival, when right wing journos feast on half truths and exaggeration. The Birmingham 'Winterval' was a promotional campaign to attract business over the winter of 1997 and 1998. "Winterval" was nothing more than a brand, like the drab marketing tosh of "Newcastle-Gateshead". Yet every year it gets trotted out by the same right wing newspapers to try and illustrate that somehow someone is trying to erase Christmas. For a bit of balance on the issue, try reading yesterday's Guardian comment on this phoney war.
Having read the article that you have kindly linked to, I am much of the opinion that it illustrates how much people are offended by the de-Christianisation of Christmas, and are massing against the secularist agenda. Those councils and public bodies who in the past have done their utmost to propagate the "non-offensive" message of Christmas have come to see the error of their ways as public opinion has ranged against them.

However, I do thank you for your contribution.
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