Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Words..and religion...

When I was young, I remember that tv networks used to broadcast holiday greetings in between commercials whenever a special day was coming up. I havent watched network TV in years and don't know if they still do.

In December, they would broadcast "Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends!" That always bothered me, but it took me years to figure out why. I certainly don't have a problem with wishing those who celebrate Hanukkah a happy one. Eventually, I realized that the networks would simply say, "Merry Christmas!" not "Merry Christmas to our Christian friends." There was a basic assumption that everbody watching celebrated Christmas. Jewish folks, on the other hand, were considered separate, different. That's what niggled at me. It wasn't mean-spirited, exactly the opposite. But it wasn't quite right either. By the time I finished college, many networks were simply saying "Happy Hanukkah," which is what they should have been doing. 

Of course, take it a bit further, and you have all the holidays that were ignored .... only Christian, Jewish and patriotic holidays were ever mentioned. (And New Year.)

Across the street from me, there is a church (not a Christian one) that has a message board on which they post quotes and pithy sayings. Most of them are interesting and positive. Right now, there is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Most of the time they have new stuff, but each December they go traditional. Early in the month, they put up "Your children have more need of your presence than of your presents." That is a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse. 

Later in the month, they post, "Each night that a child is born is a holy night."

That one always bothers. Not because I disagree, exactly. I would say that whenever a child is born it is a sacred moment.

However, the timing of it, combined with the fact that it mentions "nights" instead of "moments" indicates that their purpose is to denigrate the birth of Christ. Or perhaps that is too strong. Maybe they just want to make it clear that they don't believe that Jesus was special.

I want to keep this in perspective. This is  not, by any stretch of the imagination, persecution. I doubt they even intend to be nasty. It is just one religious group expressing their beliefs in a manner that seems to be intentionally affronting to another. 

I bring the holiday greetings and sign board up to encourage everyone to think about how they use words, especially words about faith. I am certainly planning to try to watch my language from now on to see if I am straying from the Christian edict to speak about matters of faith with "gentleness and respect." I plan to continue to express my faith and show why I believe it is true, but hopefully in an appropriate manner, cognizant that we live in a society that rightly provides freedom to all religions. 

Have a blessed day!

This is my fourth post for the January 2013 Ultimate Blog Challenge. (Yes, I am way behind.)


  1. Very true. Our words must be gentle and kind. What we say does have impact on others.

  2. Agreed on the point that we should have the ingrained ability to empathize with others, to know whether our words (and especially the way we phrase them) will be hurtful to others. Then again, I believe the intent behind the words matters so much more than the actual words themselves, so in regards to the message board you mentioned, it's a sticky situation. I'm not sure I would be offended, per say, but maybe use the opportunity for education.