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What we need are some historical facts: Yeshiva law prof puts Xmas ‘war’ in perspective

December 13, 2010

Dan  Welch tipped me off to a very cool feature called the Holiday Monitor on his website Patheos. If you’re interested in the never ending Christmas debates, check out some of these links. Wow.

But here’s what stood out to me at first glance:  Marci A. Hamilton’s piece titled “The War on Diversity.” Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva, picks apart the supposed “war on Christmas.” Amazing that some Christians can keep a straight face while making that claim. But they do. Every year. So when Hamilton says, “We desperately need historical facts here,” I say “Sing it, sister!”

I highly recommend her entire column, but if you only have time for a quick peek, read this:

The interest groups that push the “war on Christmas” rhetoric are the same ones who have developed the claim to a “Christian country.” It is the same argument in a jingle — the government must be aligned with Christianity itself, not just Christians, or it will betray its origins.

They have it backward.

We desperately need historical facts here. We started with a country of diversity among Christian sects, and believers did not identify with each other. Each denomination felt distinct, and in many cases, rival believers hated each other. The Puritans killed Quakers, hated Baptists, and expelled anyone who disagreed with their religious beliefs. The Quakers, who controlled Pennsylvania, passed laws that prohibited non-Quakers from taking public office. Catholics were distrusted. There was no shared religious agreement on values or human nature. Jews migrated to the United States over 350 years ago, so they were present as well. To say that most Americans were Christian is to assert an abstraction and not much else.

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