A column by Greg Dorazio
Q: Is it okay for me to say “Merry Christmas” to people?
A: Of course.
Q: But I have heard that people get offended. Won’t I offend people unless I say “Happy Holidays?”
A: No. “Merry Christmas” is essentially a goodwill wish, no matter the religious beliefs of the wisher or wishee. Anyone who has a problem accepting the positive sentiment intended may not have a good grasp on the insanity and hate of our world in general.
Q: But wait a minute, they’re taking Christ out of Christmas and everything else. You know, towns don’t have nativities anymore, no Ten Commandments at school, all that stuff. Isn’t that because people get offended?
A: Sort of, but not really. In those cases, the problem isn’t so much about offending as it is about who is picking up the check for the manger hay.
The First Amendment really does outline that governments shouldn’t be promoting a specific religion. A temporary shrine honoring the birth of a religious figure–paid for by taxpayer funds–probably isn’t quite right, according to our Founding Fathers.
Q: See, so I should say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” right?
A: It’s a different thing. That same First Amendment gives you some free speech rights, and if you want to say something nice to somebody, there won’t be much precedent in Constitutional law to stop you.
Q: Well, maybe not, but, again, won’t they be offended?
A: Would you as a Christian be “offended” if someone said “Happy Hanukkah” to you? Probably not. You’d probably be (at most) annoyed, if people said it to you all the time. Most likely, you’d be conflicted as to whether you ought to stop and take the time and correct your religious beliefs for them.
Q: Fine. But what about “Merry X-mas?” Is that a better compromise?
A: Sure, go ahead and write or even say that–if you want to actually offend someone. Maybe in a text message or to-do list that’s okay, but without some serious character number or font limitations, taking the “Christ” part out is and insulting to folks who are celebrating the birth of Jesus–and rightfully so.
At the same time, if you were worried about offending someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, you haven’t avoided that. Of course, I maintain that they won’t be offended, they’ll just be looking at you with a smile-and-nod face.
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