Tolerance Is Hallmark Of Queens Holidays
This year, the movement to take religion out of what began as holy days sacred to at least three of the world’s major religions grew stronger than ever before. A major department store took the greeting “Merry Christmas” off its advertising, awnings and canopies and ordered employees never to let the phrase cross their lips while on duty. At least one municipality in a neighboring state banned music with a religious theme from concerts performed by its high school choir in the school auditorium and a public park. Expressions of the reason for the holiday season apparently violate the separation of church and state doctrine in the United States Constitution and discourage shoppers of other faiths from spending money in a supposedly biased establishment.
Taking religion out of a day and a season that at least three faiths regard as sacred is patently absurd. Even popular holiday music celebrates or at least acknowledges miracles and a good many songs celebrate a religious figure. Saint Nicholas, whose name was elided into Santa Claus, in the 4th century C.E. was Bishop of Myra.
In any Queens neighborhood, it is possible to find houses of worship of widely varying denominations and faiths within blocks of each other and, as far as we can tell, no religious group seems to take umbrage at the presence or practices of any other.
We also haven’t come across any effort to restrict the programs of school concerts to entirely secular compositions. This is a compliment to the good taste and good sense of school administrative staff. Nearly all music of the season, be it popular or classical, celebrates miracles. Among those miracles is tolerance, if not acceptance, of the beliefs of others—a true epiphany.
It’s the season for epiphanies. Here’s another: Among the principles on which this country was founded is the right of all its residents to worship as they please—or not to worship at all. It flies in the face of those principles to sanitize all our holidays for marketing purposes or for a version of “political correctness” which ultimately denies the freedom of speech and religion which it purports to uphold.