Your Opinion: More responses to caroling complaint
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
From Veronica Runge, Holts Summit:
I have observed that many atheists and other non-Christians take part in the seasonal shopping rush and, in some cases, allow their children to accept gifts from Santa Claus, even though he evolved from a Christian saint. In other words, they would enjoy the holiday if not for those annoying religious songs and other reminders of the reason for the celebration.
I have a suggestion for those who want to take Christ out of Christmas. Why not create an alternative holiday for yourselves at some other time of year? Family and Friends Appreciation Day would provide an opportunity to go shopping, consume festive food and drink, make music of your choice, and exchange gifts without being traumatized by the sight of a nativity scene or the sound of an authentic Christmas carol.
Non-believers could stay home during the Christmas season. This would lessen the crowds for the rest of us and even out the merchants’ cash flow through the year.
From Warren Solomon, Jefferson City:
Jessica Lako’s letter to the editor a few days ago opened a hornet’s nest. She had used her First Amendment right to freedom of speech to present her personal reaction to the Capitol Caroling concert, perhaps based on her interpretation of the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment.
Letter to the editor respondents to her letter were horrified. Some labeled her as anti-Christian. One even suggested that if she cannot accept the fact that this is “a Christian nation,” she should move somewhere else.
Frankly, I am appalled by the quality of the ideas submitted by many of the respondents. They served better to generate heat rather than shed light on the subject.
This is a time of year when public schools often perform music programs that relate to the holiday of Christmas with perhaps some Hanukkah music also included. Do such programs conflict with the U.S. Constitution? The answer is not simple.
Amendment I, extended to states later by Amendment XIV, specifies that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Hence, if a public school promotes specific religious beliefs, even a community’s majority beliefs, then that school would be out of step with the First Amendment.
At the same time, public schools have the duty of helping their students understand and appreciate our nation’s cultural heritage. The fact is when it comes to choral music, much of the music in our culture does have religious roots, often from Christianity. Indeed, incredibly beautiful music has been inspired by Christianity and by other religions as well.
Do public schools not have the responsibility to help students understand and appreciate such music? Since that music is part of our cultural heritage, I believe they do have that responsibility so long as they guard against indoctrinating students to accept the beliefs of any of specific religions.
Indeed, public schools have the duty to teach their students that this is a nation with a rich diversity of religious traditions, that what holds us together is not religious doctrine, but respect for each other’s right to worship and believe in our own very different ways.
For scholarly, well-reasoned guidance on such matters, I urge people to read “A Parent’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools,” which the National PTA and the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center developed: http://www.freedomforum.org/publications/first/religioninpublicschools/parentsguidereligion.pdf.
From Frank Neutzler, Argyle:
Ms. Lako writes of Capitol Caroling as an unwelcome expenditure of tax dollars for religious purposes. Let me ask, is the declaration of any holiday celebrating the achievement of another person, also an unwelcome expenditure? Shall we do away with Dr. King’s birthday celebration or those of Veterans Day, Presidents Day or Memorial Day?
Each of these holidays represents the celebration of human achievement. Does not the celebration of Christmas accomplish the same?
Disregard that Christians consider him their savior, is Jesus Christ not one of the most influential Jews of all time? Do his teachings and messages not suggest a peaceful co-existence to our brothers and sisters with whom we share this planet?
Jesus’ message teaches us of humility and sacrifice for others. He reminded us that women are not to be subjugated or looked down upon, simply because they are female. The three major religions in the world acknowledge that He did indeed exist, but question the legitimacy of God as his father.
The secular anti-religious and non-Christian people of our nation should put his “Savior of the World” label aside and remember the man for what he did and taught.
Remove your prejudices and preconceived notions of this season as a purely religious occasion but, rather as a reflection and consideration of His teachings, much as other parts of the world remember those of Gandhi, Confucius and other teachers of peace and tolerance and respect.
From Judy Bax, Jefferson City:
I have just finished reading yet another letter regarding Jessica Lako. I am wondering if Ms. Lako has any friends? She certainly couldn’t be a friend of mine or any of the multitudes of friends I have.
Merry Christmas anyway Ms. Lako. You are still welcome in my church, St. Peter’s Catholic, right across from the Capitol.