Honoring diversity in religious belief
My wife and I were disappointed when we learned that, for the first time, our community’s annual holiday concert program listed no Christmas carols. When we asked why, we were reminded, “We have a diverse community and we don’t want to offend anyone by singing traditional Christmas and Hanukkah songs.” At first the response angered us, and we shared our intention to possibly skip the performance. Though the action would hurt our friends, who worked hard to make the concert a success, we wanted to make a point.
Upon further thought, anger turned to concern and sadness that so many Christians and other believers have accepted the secular humanist propaganda that diversity requires a least common denominator in public worship, i.e., no worship. Misinterpreting the intent of our Constitution, they seek to bar any speech, song or symbol that acknowledges the existence of God, and too many Christians, either by passive acceptance, or active support, are letting them succeed.
Abolishing religion in the public square is not how our founding fathers understood diversity. Many of them, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were Deists, who, while they had a different view of the Bible than I do, believed in a Supreme Being who endowed people with inalienable rights that the nation was charged with protecting. That belief led to the first amendment, written to protect citizens from a state imposed religion, not to abolish the public exercise of religion. In their view diversity in religious belief was to be honored, not abolished.
George Washington was so committed to this ideal, that he invited a Catholic priest and a rabbi to march in his inaugural parade. Remember, Catholics and Jews were barely tolerated at that time. The secular humanist religion is attempting to rewrite our constitution and history, redefining the meaning of diversity as an initial step towards abolishing God from public life.
It is time to stand up for our God and First Amendment right. As we approach Christmas, let’s make clear to all we meet that this holiday celebrates the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, God who became man, incarnate of the Virgin Mary, Emmanuel, our Savior. Let’s do so in public with word, song and symbol.
As we celebrate our holiday let’s practice true diversity, respecting the beliefs of others, as we practice ours. Respecting others, however, does not require we refrain from proclaiming the Gospel, as Jesus instructed us to do, but to do so as Jesus taught us to do.
Incidentally at the concert, the choir deviated from the program and sang “Silent Night”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and a Hanukkah song. Merry Christmas.
Toman is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown, and is a project manager with the Diocese’s Faith in Our Future pastoral planning initiative.