Dear Mr. _______,
as a minister, a City Planning Commissioner, and a former Wisconsin resident, I would like to address the issue of the use of christmas versus holiday regarding the tree. I understand this is a tremendously sensitive matter for many people of all belief systems, so please bear with me. This matter can set a precedent for other communities and states.
First, there is no official state menorah or festivus pole but there is an official state tree.
Many of us, christian and nonchristian, put up the tree because of the holiday season, and many of us call it a christmas tree. That the state needs to legislate its name is unreasonable since we all know what it is, and I doubt that any taxpayer is paying you or anyone else to legislate this, given the state of our economy. Government should not endorse any particular religion. Government works, you work, for everyone, not just a particular majority.
The evergreen originated as a pagan symbol during the holidays, as did many other practices that are part of this holiday, and therefore, the tree is not just a christian symbol, though many in this country would like to believe.
This country was NOT founded on christian principles. this country is the melting pot, and if you truly look at history, the founding fathers promoted secularism for a reason. A quarter of this country are not christian, and thus, do things differently. You work for all of your constituents, regardless of their religious affiliation (or lack there-of).
Although many celebrate christmas, including millions of non-christians, consider this fact: Look throughout the pages of the bible, and you will find not ONE WORD of "christmas" being celebrated by any of YEHOVAH's people. It is not mentioned once! Neither the messiah nor any apostles ever observed this holiday, nor the new testament church!
Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25.
In the 4th century CE, christianity imported the saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the saturnalia as christians. Review your history books on Constantine I.
The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically christian about saturnalia. To remedy this, these christian leaders named saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.
Just as early christians recruited Roman pagans by associating christmas with the saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.
That said, at the end of the day it's about acceptance, or at the very least, tolerance of everyone around us. No one should have to feel defensive, about how they express simple things, like stating merry christmas or happy holidays.
As a minister, I promote acceptance and inclusiveness, to say that EVERYONE should look at what is intended when people say things. If I say happy holidays to you, that is my way of wishing something positive to you, and if you say merry christmas to me, that is your way of wishing something positive to me. It is all intent, and I believe that's what we need to look for. We need to look deeper into the people around us.
Many people, christian and nonchristian, celebrate something during this time of the year. It may have a different meaning for each person, and that's ok. We need to promote understanding and acceptance.
I encourage you to look at this matter from all angles, for all of your constituents, not just what you consider to be the majority. And then take measures toward inclusiveness. Majorities are not supposed to receive preferential treatment at the expense of others.
I am not saying that you personally cannot call it a christmas tree. I am not christian, and I still call it a christmas tree, though its meaning for me may obviously differ from what it means to you. Among my christian friends, I honor their expressions and way of doing things, and among nonchristian friends I also honor their way of expression and doing things. There will always be extremists on any side of an issue, one who says you can't say merry christmas and one who judges a person who uses secular expressions. I honor all, and promote inclusiveness. As a politician, hired by your constituents, you can have your personal beliefs, but your employer, I imagine, wants you to be fair and impartial.
I encourage you to promote understanding and acceptance-hold yourself to a higher standard. Be the one who encourages everyone, christians and nonchristians, to look beyond mere words and objects and doctrines to find deeper meanings. Why does it take atrocities like September 11 to unite this country's citizens?
Sincerely, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Namaste, and Assalam Aleykum