I had an interesting exchange on a blog by Semper Fi the other day. He was upset because Christmas, the word, had disappeared from most holiday advertising. He saw it as just another assault on Christianity by the left, and he wondered why some people were so afraid of Christianity.
My first response was that, as an agnostic, non-Christian, I’d think that was a good thing. How many Christian kids today wake up Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of their Messiah? How many even know that’s what the day’s all about? Let’s face it, it’s not the left wing conspiracy (oh how I wish we had one!) that’s ruining Christianity, it’s the brazen commercialization of what should be a profoundly important day.
I’m probably getting the sequence all wrong, but he brought up the issue of “freedom to” as opposed to “freedom from” suggesting that his “freedom to” worship was being compromised. He’s probably right, but that distinction between “to” and “from” is critical in understanding why.
In terms of the fear of Christianity, I noted that one of the most important elements in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was the protection of minorities against “the tyranny of the majority.” Those Founding Fathers were very smart people. Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S., and there’s a growing, powerful, well-funded, well organized segment of right-wing fundamentalists that want to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.
That’s why there’s “freedom from.” They don’t have the right, as Americans, to do that–although none of them have probably ever read the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, one of my best friends was a Jehovahs Witness, and his religion forbid him to say “The Pledge of Allegiance.” I don’t remember why it was forbidden, but the teacher, outraged, sent him to the principal’s office. Even then, I thought that a stupid, wrong thing to do.
He wasn’t anti-American, he just had a set of beliefs different from the mainstreams–and that’s what the Bill of Rights is there to protect.
That’s what I find odd about so many “conservatives.” You’d think they’d be the first to recognize and support the protection of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. It’s one of the most important and powerful concepts on which this country was founded–it’s also one of the reasons for the freedoms we enjoy today. That may mean losing some of their cherished “freedoms to” — such as having Christmas decorations all over every street in the America–but that’s a small price to pay to protect the more important “freedom from” tyranny.