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Tifton, Georgia: Christian ‘Principals’ at Work

Someone sent me a link to this article where the mayor of Tifton, Georgia reverses a previous decision and declares his commitment to Christian “principals” — and I’m sure they appreciate the support.

As mayor, I recently changed the name of the long-time annual Christmas Celebration with a new Proclamation. When I became mayor in 2008, this was one of my priorities but I moved methodically in the process.

To leave Christmas out of the name all these many years just did not sit right with me. Our country was founded on Christian principals and our priorities to that end have kept this country free!

I would argue that our freedom has largely come as a result of rejecting the views of the dominant Christian beliefs at pretty much every point in our history. Support for established churches that crushed freedom in the colonies (and in Europe long before that) came exclusively from Christians. Slavery was justified on the basis of the Bible’s endorsement of that practice for centuries, as were the Jim Crow laws that followed for a century after its abolition, including all of the bans on interracial marriage. Prohibition was purely a Christian project, as was opposition to women’s rights and civil rights for blacks and, currently, the battle for equality for gays and lesbians. We have been kept free by our continual throwing off of the influence of Christian beliefs.

I don’t agree with the places I spend my money during Christmas time saying “Happy Holidays”; it was “Merry Christmas” since I was old enough to remember and then almost overnight it changed, leaving Christ out of the season we celebrate as His birthday.

Nonsense. Saying “happy holidays” has nothing to do with “leaving Christ out” of the season; it has only to do with the recognition that some of their customers don’t celebrate Christmas because they’re not Christians. That’s a perfectly reasonable way to handle the situation, but since it is a threat to Christian cultural hegemony the wingnuts lose their minds over it.

You certainly do have to commend the courage of a politician declaring his fealty to the faith of the overwhelming majority of voters in his town.

Comments

  1. unbound says

    “…it was “Merry Christmas” since I was old enough to remember and then almost overnight it changed…”

    Utter tripe. In the mid-80s, I was taught to use the term “Happy Holidays” while working at a restaurant because of the extremely few Jewish people and potential others (unspecified to me at the time). This was in a mid-west state where Catholics and Lutherans made up over 95% of the population at that time (97% if I remember correctly). I clearly remember using the terms interchangeably going back into the late 70s. “Happy Holidays” was used many times by many different people and was never considered an issue.

    Sheesh. Not only are they trying to re-write the history of the birth of this nation, they are trying to re-write history from only a few decades back…

  2. says

    Many Christians I know use “Happy Holidays” in its plural form for Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. This was in use in my neck of the woods long before there were openly non-christians existed.

  3. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    What peicurmudgeon said. I grew up in the 60′s and it was understood that “Happy Holidays” was more or less just the short form of “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. The objections to “Happy Holidays” only began when certain people realized, to their utter horror, that the term could also be applied to non-Christian holidays.

  4. eric says

    To leave Christmas out of the name all these many years just did not sit right with me. Our country was founded on Christian principals

    It’s old, it’s tired, and it’s beating a dead horse, but it has to be said every time this comes up: in reality the puritan (portion of the) founders of this country objected to and abhorred Christmas. They wrote scathing critiques of the celebration in their time. Emulating the practices of our Plymouth rock forefathers would mean banning Christmas (which they actually did), not supporting it.

  5. Ellie says

    “I don’t agree with the places I spend my money during Christmas time saying “Happy Holidays”…”

    Because that’s really what Christmas is all about to you, isn’t it? How much money you spend and making sure you’re in line at 3AM on Black Friday and too bad about that guy who got trampled, but ’tis the season.

  6. says

    Anyway True Scot Christians (like those jolly old Pilgrim Whatsits just off the Mayflower and raring to join the melting pot*) absolutely hated Christmas until the late 1800s!
     

     
    _____________
    * or not.

  7. savoy47 says

    I think that the objections to “Happy Holidays” was originally rooted in racism. I remember it starting when Kwanzaa hit the radar and then the bible thumpers joined in with their book as justification for them not being racist. Now days they just like to bask in the warm glow of persecution.

  8. abb3w says

    Ed Brayton:

    Prohibition was purely a Christian project, as was opposition to women’s rights and civil rights for blacks and, currently, the battle for equality for gays and lesbians

    …er, no. Primarily, yes. Disproportionately, almost certain; it’s much easier to find examples of anti-prohibitionist than prohibitionist writings from prominent atheists and agnostics of the day. Purely, however? Though they seem more the exception than the rule, there have been Freethinkers who ended up on the historically lamented sides of prohibition, suffrage, and even gay/lesbian civil rights today.

  9. lynxreign says

    Prohibition was purely a Christian project, as was opposition to women’s rights and civil rights for blacks

    It is a lot more complicated than that. The Suffrage movement was very closely linked with the Prohibition movement. Prohibition was seen as a way to improve women’s lives and to get it passed, they pushed strongly for women’s rights and the vote. Sure most people in America were Christian back then so you can find Christians as a majority on both sides of most positions, but this was the same group of Christians for both Prohibition and Suffrage. That same group was happy to embrace incredibly racist groups like the KKK as long as they all got to the same goal of Prohibition even though their movement was largely the descendant of the Abolitionist movement, which itself was a strongly Christian movement.

    Religion on the whole has done far more harm than good, but some people and movements did manage to use it to accomplish some good.

  10. sceptinurse says

    I tend to personalize holiday greetings when I know what holidays the person I’m talking to celebrate (and I’m only talking to one person). When I am addressing a group, especially when I won’t be seeing any of them over several of the holiday’s, I use Happy Holidays. If I worked in retail I would use Happy Holidays since I have no way of knowing in 30 second to two minute encounter what they celebrate.

    I must admit I take a distinct pleasure in talking about having a solstice celebration in the midst of a group of grumpy christian’s whining about how no one respects their rights.

    This year we probably celebrate Solstice, Chanukah, and Christmas as well as New Year’s since my Jewish daughter and her family will be here. I’m an equal opportunity holiday celebrationist.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Xmas coming up again already?!?

    Damnitall, I’m low on ammo, and gotta go clean all the artillery!

  12. D. C. Sessions says

    I think the mayor should put his “principals” into practice and pass a municipal ordinance banning the phrase “happy holidays.” Punishment might or might not include summary execution by anyone with a concealed carry permit.

  13. lordshipmayhem says

    I think the principals should get together and buy the Mayor a dictionary as a Saturnalia gift and mandate that he read a page a day – spelling test to follow.

  14. Sastra says

    I don’t agree with the places I spend my money during Christmas time saying “Happy Holidays”; it was “Merry Christmas” since I was old enough to remember and then almost overnight it changed, leaving Christ out of the season we celebrate as His birthday.

    Hey, what about those of us who leave Christ out of “Merry Christmas?”

    I grew up with Christmas as a secular holiday; the Baby Jesus story was no more or less significant than the Rudolph story or The Christmas Carol. The more non-christians celebrating Christmas, the more non-religious it becomes. The mayor should be careful of what he asks for.

  15. Brother Yam says

    @fifthdentist:

    My personal favorite is “Axial Tilt is the Reason For the Season.”

    Then, perhaps, you’d really enjoy the more mellifluous “The Obliquity of the Ecliptic is the Reason for the Season”

  16. Tony says

    “…our freedom has largely come as a result of rejecting the views of the dominant Christian beliefs at pretty much every point in our history.”

    Ed – I believe this is one of the most fundamental and fascinating insights about American history that I have read in many years. Thank you.

  17. vmanis1 says

    I always laugh at people who obsess over the importance of `Merry Christmas’. After all, there are many Christian holy days at this time of the year; we could, for example, go from Advent to Epiphany. When somebody says that only Christmas is important, I have to assume that s/he thinks these other holy days are UNimportant, and that therefore, s/he considers the Feast of St Stephen to be nothing more than chopped liver, notwithstanding the fact that Americans and Canadians celebrate this day (Dec 26) by going shopping.

    The `War on Christmas’ folks should Get A Life (as should I for posting this comment).

  18. says

    I’m with sceptinurse @16 — Personalized greetings (i.e. “Happy Hanukkah”, “Merry Christmas”) if I know what the person celebrates. A generic catch-all “Happy holidays” if I don’t. And I love to throw in “Happy Solstice” every now and then to change it up.

    As for me? Well… any excuse for a party! (My definition of “party” being “a small, intimate gathering of about five or six people.” Your mileage may vary.)

  19. abb3w says

    lynxreign:

    It is a lot more complicated than that. The Suffrage movement was very closely linked with the Prohibition movement.

    And even that’s oversimplifying matters. Several of the original Suffragette leaders came to it by Freethought traditions; the overlap with Prohibition I think came later, after the Christian suffragettes took up the cause and then shed the earlier leaders.

    I suspect it could be very useful to the New Atheists to review the history of 1800s Freethought.

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