Taking care of the tinsel, ignoring the tree

I love to read the Off the Clock with The Checkout Girl and her companion blog, Fuck Yeah, Motherhood. She is wonderfully irreverent and bawdy. It make me laugh, and it makes me feel like I am couth in comparison; win/win. Yesterday she posted about some fundamentalists’ obsession with being told Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays.

Apparently the collective knickers of the 13,000 members of the First Baptist in Dallas, TX are getting in a twist because some business insist on wishing people Season’s Greetings or whatnot, instead of wishing them a Merry Christmas. It implies (brace yourself for a shock) that this is a secular and democratic nation with people of various faiths and creeds. Clearly, if Jews and Muslims and Atheists and Pagans don’t want to be told Merry Christmas, that’s their tough shit. The congregation at First Baptist thinks these heathens can just kiss-ass and deal with it. Moreover, they should have the decency to become fundamentalist Christians too, so it wouldn’t be an issue. Any corporation who treats anyone other that Evangelical Christians with basic human dignity should be boycotted as the Satan-worshiping anti-Christians that they are.

Yes, the terms “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” are a real threat to Christians. Excuse me while I call bullshit on this. People of other faiths deserve respect and consideration, and if you have ever bother to read anything in the New Testament (other than letters accredited to Paul) you would know this. Also, Jesus was against this holier-than-thou crap. Jesus said, in essence, that if you are praying in public, you are doing it so you will look ‘good’, not from religious sincerity. Thus, it makes you an asshat before the Lord. The people in the First Baptist Church are just indulging in a “how-pious-I-am” display when they gripe about such petty, petty things. The are acting like martyrs over things that pose no threat to them or their religion, so they don’t actually have to do anything dangerous or uncomfortable for Christ. Plus, they are rude.

While they are whining and moaning that Christianity is under attack from dangerous “Happily Holidays” greeting cards, they are doing nothing (so far as I can tell) about their fellow Christians who are in real danger. The Christians in Iraq are being slaughtered and persecuted, but are the people at first Baptist screaming about that? No. Christians (and other faiths) can be killed in some countries because they “blaspheme” against the Islam, and one Christian woman in Pakistan is sentenced to death because of it. Are the members of the First Baptist Church working with amnesty international to fight for her life? Not that I can see. Are they using their economic and political clout to increase the number of asylum seekers allowed into the US so that their fellow Christians, and hopefully other people endangered by totalitarian regimes, can be safe? No.

In fairness, I don’t think my church is working on this either, but at least we’re not squalling about ‘evils’ of Season’s Greetings. I’m going to talk to my priest, and see if there is any way we can, as a congregation, help those who are being persecuted for sharing our faith. Because persecution bugs me. I don’t want to see ANYONE persecuted for any reason, ever. This includes the (usually) less deadly, but still disgusting and heinous, harassment of Muslims in America and the anti-Semitism that still exists.

Anyway, there is a very famous Biblical passage about taking care of the big piece of timber in your own eye before you worry about the mote in someone else’s eye. It turns out that Jesus was really, really against self-aggrandizing religious hypocrisy. Who knew? It seems the folks at First Baptist in Dallas haven’t heard about it. If I may stretch into metaphor here: they are busy trying to take care of the tinsel, while ignoring the Christmas Tree. 

About Betty Fokker

I'm a stay-at-home feminist mom.
This entry was posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, I've been thinking too much, shit I think y'all should know. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Taking care of the tinsel, ignoring the tree

  1. Sure Thing says:


    I see this sort of discrimination and it just kills me. I am fortunate to be from a multicultural setting and make a point of trying to speak against any sort of bigotry. Fight the good fight, Fokker.

    As for the harassment of Muslims in America – it is much worse than that, average Muslims are treated horrendously with extreme suspicion at airports. If only the US would use the Israeli screening method for passengers, then this sort of violation (of everyone) would not be necessary.

  2. Kate George says:

    Brava, Fokker, Brava.

  3. Becky says:

    My dad is one of the Happy Holidays haters. When it gets too much I just point out that HH covers both Christmas and New Year’s, which is of course only a week later. That usually shuts him up for at least a little while. I’ve tried pointing out that not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas, but that just makes him rant louder and me more annoyed. The Christmas/New Year’s argument takes the wind out of his sails without leaving me all irritated. At 71 it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to change is attitude for the moderate, so I’m big on working around it. Calling him an asshat (even if he’s being one and it would relieve my feelings for a moment) won’t improve the situation.

  4. MaineBetty says:

    You are on a magnificent roll today, Fokker!

  5. Clever Cherry / Betty says:

    As an atheist this is the ‘season’ of smile and nod while biting my tongue. Recently I lost my cool with my mother who was informing myself and my brother that all the Nation of Islam is going to hell because they don’t believe in the same god as her. Merry xmas, y’all.
    Merry Christmas never used to offend me. Then I started living in rural KY and listening to the -‘don’t leave christ out of christmas’ and yay we’ve found another way to convince ourselves that xtians are the persecuted ones- crap.
    7 years later I’m sick of it and getting bitter. Now I delight in writing and saying xmas. (Though not to my mother unless she’s really pissed me off. She’s 72 so why hurt her.)
    Whether this started out as a xtian nation or not, it is now a nation full of people of differing beliefs. If you desire to respect people, Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings is appropriate. Merry Christmas is not appropriate at this time partly BECAUSE all of the people like this church have made an issue of it. And Merry xmas was never appropriate for government buildings, etc. Separation of church and state was an important tenant for our forefathers, whether they were xtians or not.
    BTW MS Fokker whom I adore, I don’t know if that church is SOUTHERN Baptist or not but you might want to read why Jimmy Carter resigned from the SOUTHERN Baptist convention after 60 years and is now just a Baptist. It’s interesting. It has to do with the SBC adopting a resolution of sorts that says that the Bible as a whole is more important than Jesus words. They follow the Bible, not Jesus.

  6. Luna says:

    Very nice! I was going to say something myself (except that it’s not really an issue in Canada), so now I think I’ll just post a link to you. :)

  7. lunarmom says:

    I linked to you today, and it had nothing to do with this, but now I am SO glad it worked out that way. Yay! Very well done.
    As a Pagan this irritates the shit out of me. I apologize, in advance, for saying this here, but folks… Jesus is NOT the reason for the season. (He was a fabulous dude, I’m a big fan.) His birthday (correct me Fokker if I am wrong) was in the summer. And the original reason for this season was the re-birth of the SUN. The longest night of the year was marked by gobs of native peoples for when it was over, then the days got longer and they wouldn’t all freaking freeze to death in the damn dark.
    Okay, sorry to drag my soap box over here to your space. You are my hero (ya know, with all your facts and shit). Also, as we all know, you just rock.
    Happy Holidays y’all!

    • Bethany says:

      I believe it was in the late spring (because of the lamps being born?) but close enough. Christmas was celebrated at this time because Christians could hide their celebrations amidst all the Roman Saturnalia parties that were occurring.

      Also a big fan of happy holidays and get so pissed off at people who insist on getting offended at people who say happy holidays or seasons greetings.

    • Betty Fokker says:

      I think it was in Spring … I actually think it was on March of 4 BC because of the massive planetary alignment (would look like one big-ass star) in the House of Judea, which would have sent Magi heading to Bethlehem.

  8. Pink Pelican says:

    It’s not just one isolated congregation that complains about the “Happy Holidays” thing. It’s pervasive throughout the Southeast, and probably other parts of the country. I have always thought that, given all the issues we face on a regular basis, this is a pretty silly thing to get all up in arms about.

    Of course, I don’t identify as Christian (even though I was raised “casually” Christian). I was raised with Christmas as my major holiday, and I still adore Christmas, but I celebrate a secular version that focuses on the joy of being with family, counting blessings, and offering a wish for peace, joy, and laughter to visit everybody in the world. I wish my Christian & Christmas-celebrating friends/family “Merry Christmas”, and my non-Christian/non-Christmas-celebrating friends/family “Happy Holidays”.

    So, I’m pretty much part of the problem for the folks who are bound & determined that Christmas belongs to THEM, can only be celebrated they way THEY say, and everybody else should get on their band wagon or go to hell.

    They are more than welcome to fume and fret about “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings”. I’m still going to use those along with “Merry Christmas”. I’m going to put Santa on my mantle and give presents to my friends and family and

    • pinkpelican says:

      (server pooped out …)

      … and give presents to my friends and family and celebrate the holiday with cheer and happiness. I’ll let the fussy people celebrate with spite and ire in their hearts.

      Wonder who’s gonna have a merrier Christmas?

  9. Jen_Ann_W says:

    I loved that article! Thank you thank you thank you for linking to it. As one of the commenters there said, “Axial tilt is the reason for the season.” Which, getting all nerdy-sciencey about it, is totally true. I want a shirt with that on it.

    • Clever Cherry / Betty says:

      I love that. I want a tshirt that says that also!

    • I want one, too! love that. And btw, this asshat attitude is prevalent here in the hyper-conservative northern rockies, too, so it’s not just the south. Whenever I hear it, I always say something like, “I would never want to offend my friends who are jewish or muslim” which at least points out that other faiths aren’t some “alien” race that exists out there somewhere in limbo, but real people with six degrees of connection to them (or two).

  10. Betty Fokker says:

    I love my Fokkerites. Love ’em.

  11. Ah, this place is so refreshing. Not only the glittery wisdom from The Fokker, but the shiny bits from all the Fokkerites. Plus, had a shitty day, so this is a balm to soothe my soul, especially ’cause I agree with everyone here. Happy xmas, y’all. :)

  12. Merry says:

    I don’t believe it.
    I’m disagreeing with the Fokker.

    I like saying “Merry Christmas.” And I like saying “Happy Hannukah.” When I get my act in gear, I send Christmas Cards to Christian friends and Hannukah cards to Jewish friends. If I came across a card suitable for a Pagan friend, I’d send one of those. Different faiths, different beliefs, should be treated as different. To me, “Happy Holidays” makes all the celebrations seem generic. When I have to send a card to someone whose beliefs I don’t know, I send them a card with all the holidays of the season listed and wish them the best of each.

    “In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!'”
    –Dave Barry

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