Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Educational Message of Christmas

Sunday, January 1, 2017, 23:39
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By the Rev. Dr. Joe Renfro

Christmas is the day that Christendom has chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ. The exact time is not important so much as the fact that he came, so to debate about the actual date, month, or time of the year is not important. How Christmas is celebrated varies in different lands and has over the many years that the Church has sought to celebrate it. But this event has a basic message that is central to Christian message that in Jesus Christ, the incarnation, was manifest-when God limited himself to come as tiny babe in the personage of Jesus Christ to come to earth and redeem his special, but fallen creation and to establish an eternal union with those who would come to realize this reconciliation.

Even if you aren’t religious, it is impossible to deny America is culturally a Christian nation. Much of our legal system and system of government is founded on Christian principles. And children have always been celebrating Christmas in public schools, as a tradition, very much part of education our society to its own culture. This Christian influence is historical and has effects on the laws and establishment of our government, on our religious faith and in the development of the many denominational beliefs in this land. It also has an educational message, so in order for educated people to understand the world—in particular the Western world in which we live this advent is vital. It is the educational message of Christmas.

Christmas is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar. And although the political correct crowd frowns upon basically all of the message in reference to the first advent of Jesus Christ, this holiday of Christmas is vital and central in understanding our culture. The word, “holiday” actually comes from the phrase “Holy Day.”

In a recent Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus showed that a majority of those surveyed said they preferred “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays” in reference to the season. (Eagle Rising, December 24, 2016)    Our society has increasingly secularized Christmas, but there is no valid argument to say that educational institution are legally bound to subtract the religious domain of it and only allow the secular understanding of it.

In addition, the Marist Poll found that nearly eighty percent “strongly” or “very strongly” associated the meaning of Christmas with the birth of Jesus Christ. The CNS News reported that: Among the 1,005 adults surveyed, nearly six in ten (fifty-seven percent) said they prefer “Merry Christmas,” and fewer than four in 10 (37 percent) preferred “Happy Holidays…”The vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas and prefer ‘Merry Christmas’ to a generic greeting,” said Knights CEO Carl Anderson of the results. He went on to say…“Celebrating Christmas is a reminder that Christ came into the world out of love for us and to teach us to love one another.” And additionally, the Marist poll also found that nearly eight in ten (seventy-nine percent) Americans “strongly” or “very strongly” identified the birth of Jesus with the meaning of Christmas. Sixty-three percent of Americans also link the meaning of Christmas with attending church services. (Ibid).

Those who fight against Christmas being celebrated in any public place claim they are doing so for those minorities that have different beliefs who may be offended by the Christian holiday of Christmas. Yet in the United States about s of seventy-seven percent of Americans profess to be Christian, depending on how it is defined. But statistics also show that ninety percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, even if they don’t believe in Christ. Isn’t it sad that some organizations are trying to remove Christmas from public schools and places for the ten percent of people that don’t celebrate Christmas. What about the ninety percent who do? Why should the minority’s rights be more important than the majority’s?

Many Muslims are very much offended by the celebration of Christmas in America, and much of the secular partying that often accompanies Christmas gives them a certain amount of fuel to put on the fire. The Muslims see Jesus as a prophet, not as the Messiah or the Incarnation. But the Christmas Holidays that many of us knew as children is now referred to as the “Winter Break,” much of this in response to the claim that Muslims and other minorities are offended by schools giving special recognition to Christmas, for it is a Christian holiday.

However, in the school setting there is nothing wrong legally with saying with a student or school personnel saying, “Merry Christmas,” and if someone is offended by it as the politically correct crowd likes to proclaim, it should be their problem-not the problem of the one who wished to say this greeting.

Legally, a school teacher can wish students “Merry Christmas” because public schools and not  violate the Establishment Clause that the government does not establish or forbid religion by using the word, “Christmas” on school calendars or bulletin boards, and individual teachers need not avoid the word “Christmas” or similar common seasonal expressions (i.e. “Joy to the World”) on their apparel. Furthermore, just as the public schools themselves may constitutionally recognize the Christmas holiday”  (Celebrating the Christmas Holidays in the Public Schools, (News you Need to Know)  Wishing “Merry Christmas” at school is not in the realm of profanity, as the politically correct group would like to instill in the society!

Our founding fathers frequently wrote about the importance of keeping religion and morality firmly established in public life. They saw this as a fundamentally important method of preserving liberty. The entire text of the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” To try to use the establishment clause to forbid religious influence in education contradicts freedom of speech as well as freedom of the press!

The politically correct crowd has falsely used the First Amendment to our Constitution to project a freedom from religion attitude in respect to public education. John Dewey, whose educational philosophy has been dominant in American schooling for the over a half a century believed that the aim of schooling is to change the focus of education from the individual intellectual skills to the development of cooperative social skills, and we are seeing this very much in the mediocrity that being cultivated in the name of progress in American primary and secondary schooling.

It has been observed that”  “Freedom of religion has been turned around 180 degrees by our out of control federal government. The current meaning of the clause is freedom from religion. Freedom from religion is not a natural God-given natural right. From the very beginning of our country, we as a people, have always been tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs. Now a small and very vocal group of very intolerant people have made it very difficult for the majority of us to practice our traditional religious beliefs in public. They have accomplished this by turning to a group of federal judges from all levels including the Supreme Court. These federal judges are violating the freedom of religion clause and are now doing exactly the opposite of the very plain meaning and purpose of the First Amendment.”  (The First Amendment guarantees you freedom of religion not freedom from religion. Constitution Mythbuster, June 6, 2011).

A first-grade teacher in Sacramento County, California, said that her principal prohibited instructors from uttering the word “Christmas” in class or in written materials. A school superintendent in Yonkers, New York, banned, then unbanned, holiday decorations that contained religious themes more than the generic “season’s greetings”. Atheists posted a vandalized winter solstice sign in the Wisconsin Capitol, as they declared “Christians stole Christmas” from ancient pagans. On and on, we have seen assaults on the celebration of Christmas throughout our society and in the public schools.

But even many Christians are also opposed to celebrating Christmas, and some use Jeremiah 10:2-4 to support their position that says:  “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”  However, this scripture is not referring to a Christmas tree,  It is condemning idolatry, as the trees in Jeremiah 10 are cut down to carve them into worthless idols that will later be decorated with gold and silver. Jeremiah says nothing about Christmas trees, but custom of having Christmas trees originated in northern Europe, not in ancient Canaan far after the time of Jeremiah.

The celebration of Christmas dates back a least a thousand years in the Church, and many secular and cultic tapestry have attached to it, but the core is still there that Jesus was born as Luke2:8-14 proclaims:  “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

For millions of Christians, and most pupils in public schools who are associated with the Christian faith, the story of Christmas in the Bible is among the most beloved, and is one of their foundations of faith – that God came to dwell as a man and offer eternal life to mankind. It is both simple enough to be understood by young children, and has majestic meaning to provide adults with inspiration and awe. It is encompassing!

It is a message that calls for celebration; yes, even greater celebration than for our athletic events that most always has not just a small minority unhappy and some offended after they are finished. Because some are offended in schools celebrating and some few even recognizing it should not be reason to curtail it. Thus, the celebration of Christmas should not be forbidden in public schooling, for the Christmas message teaches of God’s love and points to God’s redemptive grace. In it all can win! Should not this be a part of education?  We who see the truth should stand up against this “politically correct” crowd before they destroy our culture, and the Judeo-Christian foundation that has enabled our constitutional republic to work!


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