Thursday, November 23, 2006

My Christmas Crib

My letter published in today's Irish Independent:

The case of the British Airways lady suspended because she insisted on wearing her cross (Irish Independent, November 21) reminds me, with a groan, that we're entering the season when the "politically correct police" will be seeking to ban Christian symbols in public places for Christmas. Cribs, nativity plays etc in hospitals, schools, public buildings and open spaces will be the subject of heated debate and charges of causing offence to non-Christian minorities.

Some will argue that we are a secular state and therefore no symbols of any religious group should be sponsored by public funds. For example, Christmas cards must be devoid of religious content and carry the "season's greetings" message, if they are to be sent at all.

I'm at a loss to know what offence could be caused by cribs, nativity plays and so on, other than to religious fundamentalists and atheist bigots who insist on being offended. Nothing in them denigrates other faith groups. Indeed, I suggest that it is quite offensive, in itself, to Christians to claim that such displays cause offence.

Such Christmas activities have been long established by custom and practice in our country. If individual communities decide, preferably by plebiscite, that they don't wish to have such activities in their own hospital, school, or whatever, then that is perfectly reasonable.

However, there should be no blanket ban or diktat from Government, religious fundamentalists or the "politically correct police."

Footnote: On 27th Nov I had a call from the Gerry Ryan Show on 2FM inquiring if I would take a call from Gerry on this topic. Sad to report, I chickened out.
Also published in the Irish Examiner - on Dec 18th, almost a month after I sent it.

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