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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  December 24, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EST

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>> hi, i'm lisa fletcher, and you're in "the stream." is the war on christmas a myth or a reality? >> our digital producer, raj is here, and raj, it's a weird thing to say this, but christmas is a touchy subject in america. do you say merry christmas or happy holidays or nothing at all? >> we just watched elf and love actually, and paying for
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overpriced eggnogs, but we have a google comment. steven sees, the so-called war on christmas, the nonsense logic that says that gay marriage is an attack on marriage. thank you, victor, for being such a downer on this holiday. >> bah humbug. >> it does represent a sentiment in our community that feudalism has crept into this holiday. >> that's something that we'll talk about in the show, people from activists to pundits to politicians claim that there are people out there wanting to ruin christmas. they say it's coming from all sides. trying to taking away a holiday. critics argue your help that
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christmas displays before thanksgiving. somewhere in the middle, christmas is being under undermined. for more, we're being joined by joel raney, from the baptist association, and copresident from the freedom from religion foundation, and the libertarian chick online. and parker marie malloy, joins us on skype. now, before we get started, if this is your first time joining us, we want to mention that we use a lot of media platforms to bring folks into skype and google hang out and quality isn't always perfect. but to reach a wider range of voices across the country, that's what's important to us. and thank you for joining us.
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so joel, is there a war on christmas by the anti-religious left? >> well, i'm getting my presidents regardless. so i'm looking forward to the holiday. what's implied in the question, when i go to home depot and the cashier tes me happy holidays, i don't see that she's trying to start a war on my faith. she's working for a company that is trying to sell their lumber to people who don't celebrate christmas as well. and when we get to the point where we're trying to squelch a holiday or observance. and the majority celebrate it, and i find that incredible. >> what do critics say about this? there has been a lot of research on it, but what's the general consensus on it? >> a lot of americans love chris and they celebrate christmas,
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and there are a lot of americans who don't celebrate christmas. i think that people should be able to celebrate whatever arrange they want to be able to celebrate. the war on christmas is a bit dramatic, but in certain parts of the country, people really see christmas like our guest, gaylord and her group, and they're trying to ban ban it. christmas cards and carols, and that doesn't represent the vast majority of american people who love to celebrate their holidays. hanukkah -- >> i would point out that the or gens are the natural holiday -- and people in the northern hemisphere have celebrated the winter soltis for millenia with evergreens and festivals of lights, and gift exchanges, and many seculars and
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people around the country enjoy this time of year, and the new year, and it's something that we're glad to share with christians, but not that it's the birth of their savior of. >> why not live and let live? your organization takes aggressive opposition to christmas. you put out billboards, yes, virginia, there is no god. and why like you're looking to pick a fight? why do that? >> well, actually the fight that's being picked i think is by bill o'reilly on a nec netwok that i will not name. but what we're concerned about in the freedom from religion foundation is the separation of church and state. while people are celebrating their religious holidays or any holidays they want, but the government should not be part of their devotional exercises. and that's why we do that.
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>> as we have already seen in the first five men's of the show, our community reflects this diverse, and rich discussion, if you will: eric parker, you wrote an entertaining blog post about how your mother thought this was a war on christmas, and what's your evidence, and what is your rebuttal to that? >> i love my mom, and we discussed that article. and i agreed to never write about her again. so with that, that particular article is just a culmination of
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covering that's i have with her and other people about this, who will argue in favor or against increased religionosity in the christmas season, because it has become commercial. but yeah, i mean, some of this evidence was -- it's all anecdotal, it's all well, you know, i heard that they're not going to light a christmas tree this year in such and such city. it's going to be called a holiday tree. who cares? in chicago, our mayor lights a christmas tree, and i'm from chicago. our mayor lights a christmas tree every year, and if you're jewish -- >> there are a lot of people who do care, and more than half of americans, by far more than half of americans prefer to say merry christmas. they don't want to dance around this idea, the christmas tree or the holiday tree or whatever.
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raj, in tweets, i'm okay with it, until it's like a nativity scene. and should those be displayed in public places? >> i don't have a problem with that. typically the objection to it is that it's violating the clause of the constitution. the thing that i've had on my mind is how does it do that? and particularly, whose religion does it violent? if we look at a nativity scene on private property, it would give radically different ideas on the baby. >> and you would be open to muslim symbols, and jewish symbols and others being displayed as well. >> others in the public square, and otherwise, i'm not sure why we have the first amendment.
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>> do you want to respond to that? >> yeah, in hundreds of cases, we have municipalities, governments owning nativity scenes, erecting them, lighting them, storing them, purchasing them, and when we complain in order to save the nativity scene, the government will say, we'll open it up as a public forum. we have two questions. the government should not be owning or celebrating or appropriating a devotional scene that depicts the so-called miraculous birth of the savior of some people's arrange, that has the message, if you don't believe in the savior, you're damned forever. it's inappropriate for the government to take sides on religious matters.
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if anyone is, all kinds of difficulties, we anticipate more than in the season. >> [ inaudible ] me an example for people who anticipate more. >> well, they have been denied permits. >> permits for what? >> to place our own signs on -- >> the there is no god sign, or is this something symbolic? >> we have not done that as a sign in the capital, with the billboards, a commercial venture, and nothing to do with the government. a great deal of push backs against the idea of a true public forum. when we put up our own views this time of year.
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so the discrimination is usually against us. >> kristen, quickly comment on the discrimination, and give me some examples of what you see as the war on christmas. >> sure, i mean, i have no problem with miss galor and her group expressing their believes. i have no problem with that. but my problem is that it's very preachy and limiting the freedom of expression for other people that have different beliefs than them. what they're doing is so joyless and grinch like. and what people like to do on christmas and hanukkah is spread joy. when you're singing silent night, you're celebrating the birth of jesus, and not telling people what they should need to believe. but what these atheist groups are is trying to spread misinformation and getting schools to stop singing
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christmas carols. >> in georgia, georgia elementary school just decided, for instance, that christmas cards are offensive, and teachers are no longer able to hang them in the hallways, and i think this is a huge example of political correctness gone out of control. and then we have governors and mayors having 20 call their christmas trees holiday trees. we're going to be living in a colorless and cultureless society because no one can do anything. >> later in the snow -- -- show. >> speaking of cultureless community:
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>> so the question is, is it fanfare about the birth of christ or the fanfare of all of the snowmen and christmas trees. we talked about the secular challenges, but could it be excessive shopping?
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>> welcome back, we're talking about whether there's a war on christmas. some argue protecting the holiday should be less focused
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on the secular left and more on things that have eclipsed the true spirit of christmas. joel, christmas is nothing new. >> most of our churches will be doing financial counseling for people who have overspent or been used by commercialization. i read that the average american family is going to take the duration of 2014 in order to pay off their credit card bills, and it's a travesty, and i think it's a long way from what jesus would intend for us as believers. >> kristen, do you think that it's destroying christmas. >> no, i don't. i think that you can enjoy the commercialization and still be a good christian or perhaps you're not christian at all. and you enjoy the holiday. i'm all for freedom. and i think that if someone is
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offended by the commercial itization of the holiday, they don't have to participate if that. so i don't see a problem with it. >> you know, this raises an interesting point. when we're talking about how commercial christmas has become, you told us earlier that members of your organization even celebrate christmas. i work here at aljazeera with a variety of people from different religions and a lot of them celebrate christmas. and does this mean that it's already a very inclusive holiday that already includes everybody under the brella? >> it has been declared a national holiday, and of course everyone gets the day off. as i pointed out, people in the northern hemisphere have always celebrated this time of year. it's the end of the year and the new year, and it's the shortest and darkest day of the year, and people have always done these
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festivals and done these gift exchanges. so it's a human celebration, but when you attach religion to it, it depicts the birth of the savior, and christianity, and you're going to be damned if you don't believe in jesus, that puts a different spin on it, and that's the part that atheists and agnostics and muslims and hindus and others in the country don't like. so our problem is when government gets behind that religion. >> so you support the commercialism that we support now? i don't know if you can see the video, so all of the various trees and elves and public displays, that doesn't bother you? >> yes, we wouldn't complain about a public display, but what has been interpreted, if the government owns a nativity scene and puts it by the seat of
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governor, if you just put a few reindeer by it, it makes it secular, and we don't buy it. the misinformation that we hear today that the christians text, in an attempt to appoint christians as persecuted this time of year. >> one thing that the community agrees on is to too much materialism:
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and alia is a muslim. and joel, i want to get you in the conversation, and speaking of unified, can anti-christians turn the war on christmas? >> christmas is the behemoth that it is today, it was not celebrated in the united states until the late 1800s until it was made a holiday. and reindeer, worked for montgomery wards.
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so it's the commercialization that has made christmas what it is today. before that, christmas was very sparsely celebrated around the country. in 1789, congress was in session on december 25th. so they weren't exactly celebrating it then. in 1776, george washington launched an attack. >> speaking of attacks, the miles per hour family association iamerican family isa one month boycott of radio shack because it doesn't use christmas in the advertisements of its store and is that going too far? >> again, radio shack is a business, and they're trying to sell products who people who celebrate and people who don't, and it's not their message to promote the message of jesus much that's my job. i'm going to do any job, and i
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think that his message is the best in the entire world. and i'll leave radio shack to sell their products. >> george says: strong words. >> coming up, is political correctness helping us celebrate christmas more broadly or is it killing the holiday?
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>> we need to draw a line between celebration and preaching. i went to school in a small new hampshire town where i went to high school. and there were a few jewish students and we sang a few hank thanukkah songs in our programs, and i think it's great to include them in a holiday concert, regardless of their religion. as a libertarian, i'm a big promoter of parental rights. and so if any student or parent
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is offended by any songs in a holiday concert, they should have the right to opt out of that. >> where does political correctness take us in 15, 10 years? >> i would say to madison, wisconsin, where i grew up, in the 50s, there were incidents where jewish children were basically put in the closet during the whole month of december because they were not celebrating in a christian celebration. and so the schools have changed here long ago. they no longer hold christmas concerts. they do them throughout the year and don't pin them on a christian holy day. there are 10,000 religions in the world and you kept possibly celebrate them in school. the purpose of a school is to educate, not to indoctrinate. more churches have all kinds of
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sunday schools, and leave it to the parents to educate the children privately. it's not the job of the school to instruct children on religion. >> so parker, does that create a more inclusive society or take away the color and the texture and diversity that makes america what it is? >> sure, one thing that i want to say, [ unintelligible ] the news network that shall not be named, any time they're saying that, what they're talking about is basic common courtesy, saying that i don't care if i offend you. >> is it too correct for the mayor to say i'm going to call it a christmas tree, i'm going to call it a holiday tree? >> i in rhode island, the goverr
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there called it a holiday tree last year, and people were so unhappy that this year, he's calling it a christmas tree. >> he didn't want to go through this month of people yelling at him because he realizes that there are bigger problems that people need to face. >> it's a big target, this war on christmas: >> i don't think that it's establishing a religion to have something on public property,
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you're acknowledging that there are people there that believe it. and i don't think there's a threat to anybody's religious freedom. and i think it's unfortunate that there have been people who have been persecuted because they don't agree with the majority. but i don't think that the answer is to squelch out the majority. i think that the answer is to have public forum and not use the courts and saying that you can't talk abou about this. >> thank you, and to our community for a very lively discussion. until next time, raj and i will see you on majori.
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hello and welcome to al ori. jazeera america. i'm tony harris in new york, our top stories. ♪ >> holy night the pope delivers his first christmas eve has as the faithful celebrate around the world. double jeopardy, the millions hacked at target could be victims of another scam. the rare and risky space walk to repair the space station. and michelle obama on the phone as she talks to kids about santa. ♪


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