Seattle is to our north, and also to our left
December 22, 2013
Commanders at Shaw Air Force Base near Charlotte, N.C., last week ordered airmen to dismantle a Nativity scene that was erected near the base chapel as part of a tree-lighting ceremony (probably a "holiday tree"). This gutless decision followed a complaint by something called the Military Religious Freedom (or freedom from religion) Foundation, which asserted that the Nativity scene was an "egregious violation" of the Constitution and Air Force Regulation 1-1, Section 2.11.
That reminded me of a column I wrote about this subject five years ago during my annual family Christmas visit to my old hometown, Seattle. Following is an edited version of that column:
The good citizens of Washington state won't have a very Merry Christmas this year (2008) because of an ugly confrontation between Christians and atheists at the State Capitol in Olympia. The dispute triggered a war of words between Fox News bloviator-in-chief Bill O'Reilly and Washington's politically correct former governor, Chris Gregoire, a liberal Democrat.
According to O'Reilly, "Gregoire insulted Christians all over the world" by allowing militant atheists to post a giant anti-religious placard alongside a traditional Capitol Nativity scene. "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell," the placard read. "Religion is but myth and superstition …" And so on.
"The governor has permitted an attack on religion to be displayed in her office building as part of a Christmas presentation," O'Reilly wrote, noting that Christmas is a federal holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. Even though I'm not particularly religious, I think it's entirely appropriate for a federal holiday to honor the birth of Christ if another holiday celebrates the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — also entirely appropriate, I hasten to add.
In O'Reilly's opinion (and mine), "Seattle now rivals San Francisco for secular-progressive nuttiness (and) city fathers are allowing public nakedness and nude bike riding in city parks." Moreover, Seattle is now issuing permits for marijuana dispensaries in residential neighborhoods and the "progressive" Fremont District replaced its kooky-but-lovable cement troll with a statue honoring Vladimir Lenin, the father of communism.
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This isn't the blue-collar Seattle that I grew up in. I worry about my 9-year-old twin grandsons growing up in such a place, although their parents — my beautiful daughter and her hard-working husband — maintain strong family values at their home in Snohomish County, a more conservative Seattle suburb.
As O'Reilly noted, "Outside of the Seattle area, Washington state is fairly conservative. But the big-city population base rules and far-left zealots are running wild." Therefore, it's no surprise that downtown Seattle is represented in Congress by "Baghdad" Jim McDermott, a left-wing Democrat who wants to turn Iraq and Afghanistan over to al-Qaida and/or the Taliban.
The U.S. Constitution clearly states that we are "endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights," including freedom of religion. But when it comes to Christmas, a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ in a spirit of love and forgiveness, can't we put our differences aside for a few days and enjoy one of the things that bring us together as Americans? Merry Christmas!
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington. Go Huskies!