This is just too important not to comment.Two stories crossed my desk this week, both having to do with large organizations that serve in the public interest being told to remove any vestiges of religious symbols that might “offend” other people who may not share the same religious views, or any at all
Last week the Metro, the Washington DC subway service, wouldn’t allow an advertiser, a religious organization, to post faith-based billboards for the holidays using the term “spiritual,” and just this week the French Red Cross asked its local chapters to remove its symbol, the red cross, from its buildings, so as to “not distinguish between race or religious belief.”
We’ve heard the story before from major retail giants like Target, who in previous years, instructed its employees to not say “Merry Christmas,” but to use the more secular salutation “happy holidays.”
I am completely baffled by why people are offended by intonations or symbols of any religion, but Christianity seems to be the punching bag of choice in recent memory.
Oftentimes it is not someone who actually gets offended, mind you, but because the judgement of decision makers who worry that someone could be offended if they feel excluded by seeing a cross or hearing a Christian phrase.
How would it be if the government of Iraq or Egypt banned its citizens from using the term ‘God is great,’ a common Islamic salutation, because nearby non-believers would be offended? Why then does this happen in the land of the free and home of the brave?
Putting it terms more Americans might better understand, it would be like a Vegetarian going to a mall where food is served and being offended by the fact that everything has meat in it. I suppose someone could make the argument that a Vegan should at least have some options when food is served at a public place, but what if the only option was to offer no food to anyone for fear of offending someone who didn’t like the food being served?
Dissecting this further, what gives the right for someone who has chosen a life without religion (or meat) to impose his/her personal sensitivities upon others who have made different life-choices?
The answer is nothing. People who do not believe in God, or Jesus, or Allah have every right to make that choice, but to the exclusion of preventing others from expressing openly the choice they have made only serves one purpose: To shut down anything and everything that could be seen as offensive.
Since being offended is a subjective reaction, wouldn’t it be better to find out why a person is offended in the first place? Why does the expression of religious faith offend?
Every person reading this who is offended by religious expression should ask themselves this very important question. Is it because you were raised to believe religion is bad? Is it because our educational system has ignored teaching about the great contribution religion has made to mankind, or is it because mainstream media has removed religion from movies, art, music and pop culture, minimizing the positive and life-saving aspects of religion?
I find appeasing self-centered individuals who lack faith somewhat offensive, but the better approach is for everyone to be able to show their true colors, and in this way, people can have real conversations about our differences in order to learn from them.
In life there are just going to be times where a kid brings gum to school and not everyone gets a piece.
Besides, do you really want to live in a world where all human beings deny the existence of spiritual truths or religious feelings?
What kind of world would that be?
Well, just look around you.