19 January 2006

More on the Secularist Agenda.

GOP Colorado gubinatorial candidate Marc Holtzman's "secularist agenda" jab at Denver Mayor Hickenlooper (whom some Democrats hope will run to be Governor of Colorado) deserves even more of a response than I've given it already, because it is so profoundly wrong, even if you buy into his premise that one should not pursue a secularist agenda.

What did Holtzman say:

[Marc Holtzman's] accusing the mayor of being against Christmas and leading a city where pot smokers run free.

"A year ago, the mayor tried to cancel Christmas," said Holtzman, referring to a brief controversy over a plan to replace the words "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" on the City and County Building.

"There's a secular, godless undertone to the policies of the administration," Holtzman said in an interview. " 'Happy holidays' is a code word for the secular left. There's an agenda by the secular left to remove all religion from public life. I have a different vision."

Holtzman said he wants to protect the "Judeo-Christian" heritage of the country.

He also said that Hickenlooper did not fight hard enough against Initiative 100, a law that Denver voters approved in November to end all city penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

"He governs a city with the most liberal marijuana laws in the country; he didn't show leadership on that," Holtzman said.

He claims that Hickenlooper is running a "rogue municipality" that encourages illegal immigrants to call Denver home.

"They're trying to institute sanctuary for people who break our laws," he said.

I'm no minister. but neither is Holtzman. I'm also not even a Christian, but I grew up in Christianity and have more than a passing familiarity with it, which Holtzman apparently does not.

Christmas wasn't invented until long after the events recounted in the New Testament were over and no branch of Christianity of which I am aware claims that it is the real birthday of Jesus Christ, if there was one, anyway. Furthermore, most Focus on the Family types take it as an article of faith that they should try to emulate the "early Church", so why should they care about this holiday adopted to co-opt Roman pagan practice and traditions? The earliest European-Americans weren't very into Christmas. The folks who came over on the Mayflower made it a crime to celebrate the holiday in their colonies. Christmas is also, obviously, not in any sense part of the Jewish tradition, despite Holtzman's harping on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Happy Holidays, of course in a circumlocation designed specifically to respect a Judeo-Christian tradition by not claiming that everyone is Christian.

And, for the Catholics out there, the Roman Catholic Church has a long tradition of serving as a sanctuary for those who are accused of having violated the law without regard to their actual guilt. The very name sanctuary, with which Holtzman derides Denver, has its roots deep in the sacred Catholic tradition. It is certainly not the position of the Roman Catholic Church in Denver to deny spiritual and material aid to immigrants (the majority of whom in Denver are Catholic) out of respect for federal immigration laws.

I also don't remember much in the Judeo-Christian tradition that is against illegal immigration. Exodus is the story of the Jews illegally emigrating from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Jews avoided death in the deserts of the Sinai only through divine intervention (not unlike the aid to immigrants in the deserts of the United States which Republicans seek to criminalize). The Egyptian border patrol ended up at the bottom of the Red Sea, and the welcoming committee at the other end of the trip had armies to greet them (which doesn't make it sound like their entry was legal). Jesus himself grew up as a refugee in Egypt, who left travelling by night (presumably to avoid authorities that would have prevented an illegal emmigration) if you believe Matthew 2:13-23. Deuteronomy in Chapters 14 and 23-27 has a lot to say about how would should treat aliens. For example, Deuteronomy 27:19 states, “Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow."

I also don't recall the bit in the Bible about "thou shalt not smoke pot." Jesus certainly wasn't against inebriation. His first miracle was to turn water into wine at Cannah, so that the guest could drink more, at a time when most of the guests were almost too drunk to notice its quality having already consumed the wine supplies set aside for the event. He also instituted the sacrament of communion with wine. And, of course, I wouldn't be the first person to suggest that John in writing the Book of Revelations was expressing himself in a manner which, if not drug induced, certainly resembles the kind of visions those who have had a bit too much THC sometimes experience.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine anything which is more of a secularist agenda, in the sense that it has no religious basis, than a policy of trying to enforce an immigration regime based upon secular nation-state boundaries, whose arbitrary nature is particularly evident in Colorado, some parts of which were once parts of France. (See this map), only 203 years ago, and other parts of which were part of Mexico even more recently.

Republican efforts to give themselves a divine mandate for their agenda though Christianity wouldn't be quite so appalling, if they had anything to do with a genuine Christian faith.

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