By Teresa Welsh |
I've always loved Christmas. I get to see family and old friends, decorate the house I grew up in, and exchange gifts in front of the fireplace. Local communities collect winter coats for the homeless. A friend's eyes light up when she opens the perfect gift. This, to me, is the spirit of Christmas: family, charity, and generosity--values that all Americans share and celebrate.
Some Christians want to reserve Christmas for just one subset of America, and I think that's selfish. You don't need to believe in the truth of a biblical story to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas. Christmas is for all of us.
Take a look at the most important parts of Christmas: togetherness, compassion, and peace. Those are secular values. A secular Christmas is an inclusive Christmas true to the spirit of the holiday.
Some might claim that the "most important" part of Christmas is a particular religious belief. But do we really want to put faith before family? Doctrine over charity? No. If anything, religion is distracting us from the real meaning of Christmas.
I'm proud to live in country with separation of church and state. Here, the government can't tell us what religion to believe or privilege one worldview over the others. It's up to us citizens to decide how to celebrate and what values to promote.
And more and more Americans are deciding to be secular, especially in the 18-25 age group I work with. Secular Students from the 300 campus groups we support are dedicating themselves to secular ideals of activism, community, education, and service.
That's fantastic. As we put aside dogmas, we can focus on what really matters. Christmas isn't about a biblical story. It can be so much more. To millions of Americans it's a time to reflect on their loved ones and make efforts to reach out to others.
The problem isn't that Christmas is too secular. The problem is that Christmas isn't secular enough.
About Jesse Galef Communications Director of the Secular Student Alliance
Janice Shaw Crouse Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute
J.P. Duffy Vice President for Communications at Family Research Council
Bill Donohue President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights