This being the season for believin’ (so I am told) I’m going to share an old Facebook post explaining part of my perspective on the imagined war on Christmas and people’s rights to religious freedom.
“Let me start by saying you have the right to not believe in any God. As I have the right to believe there is a God. Then we divide. I want you to peacefully be able to not believe and I want all others to have the same opportunity as well . My question to you is, Why does there seem to be a need to stop others from sharing their beliefs? Do the Atheists believe they are saving people from something? Please take a moment and help me to understand your view.”
Understand that I also allow that you have the right to believe in Santa Claus if you want to. You literally do. I can disagree with you, and I don’t have to share your belief, but you have it. The fact that you still make-believe impossible fairy-tales even as an adult who (in my opinion) should know better, that is not the problem. When my children see reindeer listed with bats, birds, and bugs on a chart of flying animals presented in science class, then there’s a problem.
You have the right to believe that Columbus discovered Ohio in 1942, but you do not have the right to teach that in history class. Sorry, you just don’t.
Other people believe differently than you. Some of them have the right to believe that Benjamin Franklin was the first king of America. You and I might both know that is rubbish, based on the same reasons that I know your perspective is rubbish. You’ll tell your kids what crap that is, and in that case, you’ll refer to the same documented evidence I do -which shows that America never had a king. And you’ll make fun of the fact that all those kids wear powdered wigs, despite the fact that people will kill each over things like that. But it is still their right to believe that -no matter how wrong it obviously is.
Fortunately we live in a secular society, so that alternate ideas that are equally evidently wrong will not be taught as fact in history class. However offensive you may find this to be, there is another historical perspective which people don’t kill each other over, and which is always supported by every new discovery, while your position has never been supported by anything, and is held in rigid defiance of everything we can show to be true. You can train your children to object to the lessons taught to them, and you can lobby against all those other people pushing for that other history, but your position is still one that is evidently wrong, and therefore cannot be taught as fact in a classroom.
You have the right to wish upon a star, and your children can do that too -even in school. But please understand why it is not legal for the teacher to force the whole class to do this. You may wish on the North Star like most people do, but that doesn’t make the people who wish on other stars any more wrong than you are. That’s one reason why the teacher is not permitted to tell the students which star to wish on, nor what to wish for. We can’t make all the kids stand up and do that together. Nor do we need to ostracize those kids who see that wishing on a star is foolish, and that it can even be dangerous if you use star-wishing in place of medicine.
You have the right to believe that the western desert was created by an act of deforestation brought about by a giant named Paul Bunyon. The problem is that when everyone else in this area believes that too, then they’ll conceal all evidence indicating environmental dynamics, because they’re considered ‘forbidden’ beliefs. Sometimes the data being concealed is an important matter of consequence, where the Paul Bunyon belief never will be.
My complaint is when I can’t catch a plane on December 24th because all the airlines are shut down in order to avoid colliding with a hypersonic flying sleigh. That dozens of kids turn up dead in the news every year because the star didn’t answer their wish. That teachers are prohibited, criticized, or fired just for explaining the simple and evident facts that Columbus was here centuries earlier, and that Franklin was never a president, much less a king. Sometimes it can be problematic when everyone has a right to be wrong, and they’ll defend that right violently if they have to.
Me? I’d just rather accept evident realities and not waste time on all that other weirdness. You have a right to be wrong, but I also have a right to be right, and I’m going to exercise it.