Just about a year ago, the wife of a current member of the Flemington Borough Council wrote a letter to the Hunterdon County Democrat newspaper, condemning what she described as the “attack on Christmas”. Her letter was entitled “Christmas Traditions”, and her analysis resulted in her declaration that “we are a Christian nation”, that “tolerates all others”. Her assertion was that since the majority of America is Christian, then we are a Christian nation.
Her belief that “majority means identity” was wrong on so many levels, I didn’t know where to begin to address the issue.
We get our national identity not from the ethnic, religious, racial, gender, or sexuality of the majority of our people. Our identity arises out of the principles of governance as written by the Framers in the US Constitution and those values are clearly laid out in the First Amendment:
- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
However, IF we are to be judged on our ‘identity’ with ‘majority’ as the sole criteria, then we are a Festivus nation, if anything at all.
Festivus is the holiday invented by the Seinfeld TV show –the holiday for the rest of us. Festivus is celebrated annually on December 23, but many people celebrate it at other times, often to avoid the Christmas rush. The holiday includes novel practices such as the "Airing of Grievances", in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they've disappointed him/her over the past year. The decor for Festivus includes a simple unadorned aluminum pole. Also, after the Festivus meal, the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, the holiday only ending if the head of the household is actually pinned.
More people watched the final Seinfeld episode ---78 million people---than go to church on any given Sunday. A National Election Studies poll showed that only 25% of adult Americans claim to attend church, synagogue or temple every week. With a population of about 300 million, only about 75 million people go to church on a weekly basis. Seinfeld and Festivus trumps the church goers.
Therefore, if we are to judge our national identity purely by who is in the majority, then we are a Festivus nation.
So, this season, please remember to wish everyone you see a Festive Festivus!