Well it is Christmas time again and you know what that means: War.
One of the recent wedge issues for the Religious Right is to take offence at any and all attempts to conduct the public’s business around the winter holidays (which in OZ are the summer holidays, in a more inclusive and broader spirit. In America this is called “The War on Christmas”. I’ve often wondered how this war is carried on in countries like Sweden where the holiday is not even called “Christmas” … in the Nordic countries the word “Jul” is used … instead of Christmas … you know there was a culture before the baby Jesus came to town. I wonder what the Religious Right does with itself in Denmark?
Don’t worry Victoria, since you are in an English speaking country you can have your war too. After all where did Rupert Murdoch unwrap his gifts when he was just a lad?
The Murdoch Papers are doing their part castigating “bureaucrats” who offend the religious right.
What needs to be pointed out is just how “non traditional” and absurd the displays among the “Christiantists” can get. This for example was how some Christianists in Geelong imagined it would be nice to celebrate Easter. Easter isn’t about bunnies and eggs, it is about human sacrifice … see children, don’t look away:
This was so offensive to the local shop keepers selling painted eggs, that they were quite happy to see the police shut this stunt down. There was feigned indignation that it was some kind of oppression to limit the simulation of bloody torture of a live human on a public street in Geelong … the ACL however does not want any violent video games. You know, kids and violence etc …
In a gesture of the fun to come, one of Ted Ballieu’s first acts of state was to “caution” Principals in Victoria against “political correctness”.
TED Baillieu may have brought back Christmas for thousands of Victoria’s schoolchildren.
Nativity scenes and children singing carols and exchanging cards could once again be part of Christmas celebrations at Victorian schools.
Why not? Australia is a mostly Christian country and the political correctness that banned Christmas at schools should be regarded as the ghost of Christmas past.
Children do not have to take part and Mr Baillieu surely offends no one by asking principals to take “a reasonable and commonsense approach”.
The Premier has brought back a festive spirit in asking for children to “have the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas”.
We’ve heard reports from Victoria schools that the volunteer organizers of ACCESS MINISTRY (which runs Missions in Victorian State Schools) are driving things much further toward “Christianism” rather than the traditional Christmas program which, as all educated people (should) know is really a blend of older European traditions (eg. the Christmas Tree) and are leading the Christmas celebrations toward strains of fundamentalist evangelism.
For you parents out there, please alert us to any examples (good and bad) of things happening in the schools. It is totally appropriate for Principals to teach the meaning of Christmas as something far richer and interesting than the narrow evangelical “just about Jesus” view of the religious right – and there are a range of traditional songs which are very light on Jesus such as “Jingle Bells”. To combat this and drive the point home, what we see are Christianist activists choosing non traditional more “hard core” songs about salvation and explicit belief rather than “seasonal joy” or “celebration”.
As we’ve seen all over Australia, as Churches loose moderate members, the “hard line” activists move in – for example, instead of the traditional symbolism of dignified ecclesiastic architecture being itself a statement of purpose and meaning – the Christianits, afraid that people won’t get their message … or afraid that their message is not being stated stridently enough, resort to tawdry banners with in your face slogans as if they are selling something. Here is an example noted on a Camberwell Church: http://statereligionvic.posterous.com/why-the-aggressive-streak-in-the-church
It is absurd to take the dignified facade of a beautiful building and hang a cheap plastic banner off it but that is where this is going in the world of “Cartoon Christianity”. Question this nonsense and the counter punch comes back: don’t be politically correct!
Again here we see a nativity scene dominated by a huge banner … not that they are going to use Latin either … “Gloria in excelsis Deo” traditional Latin, isn’t good enough for todays ALLCAPS type Christians, as they say in the USA, if English was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me.
The problem is that none of what this “Christianist” movement is about is “tradition” in the sense of being part of a tradition. It is merely like the cheap plastic sign, something recently tacked on by small minded shallow thinkers who are destroying tradition and trying to deny the legitimate interests of others who come from other traditions.
We hope that in addition to common sense, that teachers and principals will actually educate children about “Christmas” – which would mean telling them much more about Christmas than Cartoon Christians want to hear.
Keep us posted if you hear particularly “nontraditional” expressions in Victorian schools … groups such as the nutters who put on the “Geelong Jesus” stunt are openly welcome to run the CRE program at any school and the programs and directions are often far more extreme that “common sense” would dictate. You know they have gone too far when they Scare the Children.