Friday, December 02, 2005

Tis The Season...

For people to try and remove Christ from Christmas. This just drives me bananas every year. I personally make it a point to say Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah if the person is Jewish). Happy Holidays? I'm sorry, but that is way too generic. Are we becoming a society where every one is alike? That is certainly what the salutation happy holidays makes me think of.

Here in Moncks Corner (for those of you from 'off', MC is a small town about 30 miles inland from Charleston), Berkeley High School has decided to change the name of its Miss Merry Christmas Pageant to the Miss Winter Wonderland Pageant. Also, one of the young ladies that wanted to compete was told that she could not dress as an angel in the pageant tonight - she could not dress in a religious costume for the character portion. Now they have decided to drop the character portion of the competition all together.

This is just so out of hand. Political correctness has gone to far. Christians tolerate, even celebrate and stand up for people of other faiths, people of other faiths or no faith at all should be tolerant of Christian beliefs. How can you have diversity when you attempt to silence a group of people.

From today's Post & Courier (aka The Worthless Courier)

BY YVONNE M. WENGER
The Post and Courier

Is it Christmas or is it a holiday?

Folks across the Lowcountry weighed in Thursday after a local high school took the word "Christmas" out of its traditional beauty pageant, sparking a renewed debate over the use of "Christmas" versus "holiday."

"It's part of the insanity that seeps into a new culture in America," said state Rep. John Graham Altman, a Charleston Republican who's known to have plastic pink flamingos with reindeer horns decorating his front lawn. "It is worse than the bird flu. I never thought we would go that crazy in Charleston."

The controversy, which has flared in cities across the country, became a local issue when Berkeley High School decided to change the name of its Miss Merry Christmas Pageant to the Miss Winter Wonderland Pageant.

The move upset Moncks Corner resident Erica Fann, whose 15-year-old daughter, Jordanne Layman, wanted to dress as an angel in tonight's pageant. Fann said Jordanne was told she couldn't dress in a religious costume for the character portion of the competition. That part of the event later was dropped altogether. Fann said the school's decision denied her daughter's right to express her beliefs.

"I don't want to take those rights from anyone else," Fann said. "I just want to make sure no one infringes on my rights.

"We live in America. We have to be acceptable to everybody's religion and say, 'OK. That is your choice' rather than saying 'You can't.' "

Fann signed a petition being circulated around Moncks Corner in support of changing the name back for next year's pageant.

The competition judges beauty and poise and has never been a religious celebration, said Berkeley County School District spokeswoman Pam Bailey. After "thoughtful consideration," she said, the school administration decided the name change more accurately reflected the event.

Herb Silverman, an atheist and leader of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, said it's a person's right to express his "freedom of conscience" and to celebrate his beliefs in private. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any religious celebration, though, has no place in government functions or public schools, said Silverman, who celebrates the Winter Solstice.

The issue comes down to tolerance, said Joel Sawyer, a spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford. "We live in an overly politically correct age," Sawyer said. "The governor believes, just as Christians tolerate people of other faiths, people of other faiths or no faith ought to be similarly tolerant of Christian beliefs."

Dale Surrett, administrator for Moncks Corner, said diversity is lost by stifling different beliefs. The town holds an annual Christmas parade and tree-lighting ceremony.

"It is this ongoing attempt to not offend somebody, and I think it is futile," he said. "It's trying to pretend a community is this blend of generic people. They are not. They are people of distinct backgrounds, religions and specific beliefs."

Sena Sutton of James Island said beliefs are an individual's decision, and people need to be respectful of others.

Lowcountry celebrations run the gamut of political correctness:

--Charleston's monthlong celebration is called Holiday Magic at Marion Square and features a 60-foot Christmas Tree of Lights, a larger-than-life Hanukkah Menorah and a Kwanzaa Kinara.

--"Whether it's sacred or secular is really up to the individual," said Ellen Dressler Moryl, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, which runs the event.

--Walterboro holds a Christmas parade and tree lighting, and organizers said they keep Christmas in the title because it's the "reason for the season."

--"We have never ever considered (changing) it," said Bennie Ordel, director of the Rice Festival Committee that runs the parade. "It has never come up."

--The Charleston County School District has no policy for the proper way to reference the holiday break, but about a decade ago, school leaders recognized the need to respect the diversity of school students, district spokeswoman Mary Girault said. The districtwide school break from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2 is referred to as winter break. Any seasonal item is referenced by saying holiday rather than Christmas, she said.

--North Charleston is "sticking with calling it a Christmas parade," according to Denise Benton, who organizes the event. She started to call it a holiday parade "to not offend anybody" but decided to leave it as a Christmas parade.

--The James Island County Park Holiday Festival of Lights has a praying hands display sponsored by Bishop Gadsden retirement community. The festival, however, is more about celebrating the holiday season than focusing on a religious theme, Donna Gueldner, director of operations, said. "That's not the goal of the show," she said. "The goal of the show is to celebrate the holidays."

Staff writers Warren Wise, David Slade, Diette Courrégé, Andy Paras and Prentiss Findlay contributed to this report.

Contact Yvonne M. Wenger at 745-5891 or ywenger@postandcourier.com.

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On a related note:

This is great. I have my card addressed and ready for the postman.

www.muscleheadrevolution.com/

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