Daayiee Abdullah is a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Religious Leadership Roundtable. He is the only openly gay imam
in the United States and the moderator of an Internet discussion group
for Muslim gay men:
again this year, the religious right has taken offense at the so-called ‘war
on Christmas.’ The American Family Association and other radical religious
groups have called for a boycott of Target because of the corporation's
policy of saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
commentator John Gibson has written a book on the subject titled The War
on Christmas, which outlines the supposed excesses of public school
districts observing ‘holiday parties’ and ‘winter breaks’.
recent New York Times article, Nicholas Kristoff writes that Fox News has
featured the so-called Christmas controversy more than 50 times over the
last month. In the case of public recognition of Christmas, as with the
campaign to ‘protect marriage’ from the horror of same-sex unions, the
uncontested cultural majority seems to find itself oppressed by the prospect
of tolerance and respect of minorities in our pluralistic society.
year, I happily use the phrase “Happy Holidays” as I express my sincere
wishes to my co-religionists of the monotheistic faiths: Judaism,
Christianity and Islam. As various religious and non-religious holidays
occur during the same period, I find it heartening to see humankind greeting
each other with holiday cheer, and no one left out of the celebration.
black American with an eclectic array of friends and associates, I am able
to celebrate Ramadan as a Muslim, wish my Jewish and Christian friends a
joyful Hanukkah and Christmas, respectively, and honor those who celebrate
Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.
Additionally, shortly after New Year's I celebrate my birthday. Why
wouldn't I want to have and wish everyone a happy holiday season?
religious and political elites of the right have a mistaken belief that
anyone who does not support their beliefs is a secularist. In efforts to
whip up their supporters through fear, they portray these ‘secularists’ as
having an agenda of cultural genocide — their evil goal being to eradicate
Christianity from the public discourse.
they not fear the elimination of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism,
and other faith systems that Americans believe in and follow?
interfaith concern would be far from the narrowly proscribed truth they wish
to push down the throats of anyone who lives in America, regardless of
course, conservative Christians have the right to sanction economically
businesses that are in opposition to their beliefs. Under the American
legal system, they also have the right to counter what they believe to be
illegally discriminatory behavior.
these legal rights ignore the responsibility we have as Americans to
interact in public in ways that do not impinge on the religious freedoms of
our fellow American citizens. When trying to best serve the general public
and not insult those of any faith, stores, schools and government entities
should follow clear guidelines that promote a neutral position because it
avoids the appearance, if not the intent, of imposing one's beliefs on
religious right seems to have fallen for the Grinch character’s belief that
taking down the ubiquitous trappings of Christmas has the power to destroy
the joy in the hearts of believers. The religious right would do well to
learn, as the Grinch did, that the true meaning of Christmas is not found in
commercial expressions of ‘Merry Christmas’, nor in ‘my faith is better than
yours’ thinking; if the spirit of Christmas is to exist at all, it must be
kept alive in the hearts of believers.
majority conservative Christian culture is not being attacked by a pluralist
society. Its desires to impose a narrowly conservative Christian faith on
all Americans is being tempered so that it does not offend the sensibilities
of most Americans who are perfectly fine with saying “Happy Holidays”.
if the leaders of the religious right had the true Christmas spirit in their
hearts, they would avoid insulting friends and fellow citizens with their
insistence on public dogmatism, and spread some peace on earth and good will
to all people.
Founded in 1973, the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation (the
Task Force) was the first national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
civil rights and advocacy organization and remains the movement's leading
voice for freedom, justice and equality. It works to build the grassroots
political strength of our community by training state and local activists
and leaders, working to strengthen the infrastructure of state and local
allies, and organizing broad-based campaigns to build public support for
complete equality for LGBT people. The Taks Forces’s Policy Institute, the
community’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to
support the struggle for complete equality. As part of a broader social
justice movement, it works to create a world that respects and makes visible
the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully
participate in society. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Task Force
also has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Cambridge, Mass., and Miami.