Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tulsa Strips "Christ" from Event Name

Tulsa, Oklahoma, used to have an annual Christmas Parade of Lights (a tradition that dates back about 70 years). The parade is still there, but the name has been changed to "Holiday Parade of Lights" instead. Senator Jim Inhofe, who used to be mayor of Tulsa and who rode is horse in the parade, has refused to participate this year because of the name change.

Once again we have a parade that was originally intended to celebrate Christmas along with most of the local population, but now it has become a political issue. Why change the name? To be more inclusive? To not offend anyone who is of a different religion or of no religion? I'm sure someone had a reason along those lines. But I'm also reasonably sure that the much-misunderstood metaphor "separation of church and state" played a role. I don't suspect a direct connection such as a lawsuit this year. I believe it likely it has more to do with various lawsuits and court decisions in the past. In some cases those decisions have seemed to indicate that "Christmas" is not a proper word to associate with civic events.

Imagine how surprised our Founders would be to discover such an attitude in current-day America. They were not in any way ashamed of proclaiming religious days, such as national days of fasting and prayer. Our nation has an official holiday for Christmas, and all federal and state offices are closed that day. Don't look for mail that day. Don't even expect to do much shopping. Why then do we seem afraid to call a parade that originated as a Christmas celebration a "Christmas [anything]" parade?

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