WHILE my mind’s on the subject, I thought it might be useful to try to add a bit more than Daily Mail-style indignation to the debate on “political correctness gone mad” with regards to Christmas.
It’s vital that all our communities value and respect other religions and honour their traditions. But the problem I have with the London City Hall approach – and this is replicated all over the country now, including in Glasgow – is that Christmas as a Christian celebration is now regarded as just one of a number of religious events during winter.
In fact, I don’t attach a great deal of spiritual importance to Christmas. It’s arguable that the Christmas story, romantic and beautiful though it undoubtedly is, is far less important to Christians than the Easter story. St Paul, who wrote a good deal of the New Testament (after the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles) seems not to have known about Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and the search of the Magi. Or even of the little drummer boy, come to that.
But Britain is a Chistian country. That does not mean that most of our citizens attend church regularly, or even adhere to the central tenets of Christianity. But we have a strong and important Christian heritage, and most Britons are cultural Christians, if not religious ones. And culture still matters.
There’s nothing wrong in embracing that fact, in accepting the fact of our Christian heritage.
In Middle Eastern Muslim countries where Christmas is celebrated, would anyone object to it nevertheless being regarded generally as less important than Eid?
Why shouldn’t children be taught the Christmas story in our schools?
Why must we feel defensive about saying that in the UK, Christmas is not just one of the religious festivals in winter, but the most important?
And why do our local authorities find it impossible to recognise and acknowledge other people’s traditions without feeling the need to devalue our indigenous faith?
Here endeth the lesson.