On December 6, Slate Magazine published an essay by Aisha Harris entitled, "Santa Claus Should Not be A White Man Anymore." In a response that went viral, Megyn Kelly of Fox News said: "For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white..." Ironically, Kelly's intolerance, expressed during a season that ought to be filled with giving, love and acceptance, is nothing new. As a Muslim, it reminds me of those conservative Muslim leaders, on the same cold end of the Scrooge barometer as Kelly, who advise us Muslims that we better not wish anyone a Merry Christmas.
I refuse to be part of any organized Christian sect because my problem, I realized, isn't with God. It's with a lot of his followers. It's why I ended up leaving the church a few years ago. It's why I struggle so much with hatred and disgust when it comes to Christianity.But it changes at Christmas time.
There is a problem with the church today -- a problem that runs deep and wide and long. It's created a chasm actually and an exodus. It's a problem sourced by a history of church practices and traditions that serve to verify its authenticity as real and overt. It's a problem all right. And that problem is shaming, specifically the shaming of people, both Christian and otherwise.
Is there reason in belief? More importantly to me, is there reason to believe? For me, yes. Belief in God provides a way to explain the yearning and the searching for something that we intrinsically know we once had but now eludes us. Belief in God provides for hope and possibility even in the presence of evil. Reason insists that creation is the result of evolution; cold, hard facts. It is belief in a compassionate and merciful God that expands our awareness of the awesomeness of the universe and all it encompasses, reminding us of our obligations to all creatures, great and small.
Though we were both raised Catholic, my husband and I made a conscious decision to eschew religion when raising our son. I'm a big believer in love over rites and rituals. Like many parents, we want him to make an informed decision about his own spirituality when he is old and mature enough to do so. Yet part of me wonders if agnosticism is truly the right move.
I started meeting people who embodied such strength and dignity despite medication side effects that shook their bodies as they walked; caused their faces to twitch and their eyes to blink repeatedly. Several of these people sharing with me that their faith in Jesus spurred them forward; giving them the courage to continue and try new treatments.
This week, a grade 12 student was suspended for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Life is wasted without Jesus." Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects both freedom of religion and freedom of expression, but nowhere does it protect people from feeling offended. In a diverse and complex society, learning to disagree without being disagreeable may be a survival skill.