Friday was Good Friday, and as I was waiting for a meeting to start, a coworker walked in and really hurt my feelings. (Yeah, I guess I'm emo now.) In a loud voice, he joked, "Yeah, all those people that want to take God out of the schools, and remove "under God" from the Pledge, but they sure don't have any problem taking off our holidays!"
I was so shocked that I couldn't say anything. All that came to mind was, "Bigot!", but that wasn't quite correct. I couldn't quite figure out why, either; it's not like people were missing from work. In fact, the only organization that had officially declared a holiday (so far as I knew) was the school system. I had to let it go to pay attention to the meeting, but it's been eating me up ever since.
I've finally managed to categorize the problem: he was basically complaining that anyone who didn't share his beliefs, but willingly kept their kids out of school on Good Friday, was a hypocrite. I hate hypocrisy, and I work hard to eliminate it in myself and my children. But I willingly let my kids stay home on Good Friday. (First off, what else was I going to do with them? Secondly, I'll take any holiday I can get.) So naturally I felt I was being insulted.
To be clear, I am one of those people who wants to "take God out of our schools" and Pledge. Precisely, I don't want my government forcing my kids to pray or to invoke god in any way. If you stop to consider it for a moment, I think you'll agree: do you really want the government deciding which religion is correct? What if they decide to pray the Muslim way? Or even the Catholic way, or the Baptist way, when you're a Methodist?
This incident perfectly highlights, in my mind, the "Christian Persecution" problem. On the one hand, he insists that the US is a "Christian Nation"; on the other, he claims to be persecuted by loud heathen minorities who want to force him to stop practicing his religion.
In this particular case, I have to wonder: who made Good Friday a school holiday, anyway? Was it one of those loud minorities? Let's check out the Seminole County School Board! Karen Almond: Catholic. Diane Bauer: Christian. Tina Calderone: Methodist. Sylvia Pond: Baptist. Dede Schaffner: unknown. Bill Vogel: Presbyterian. So, at least 5 out of the 6 people who made this decision were Christians. Where, exactly, did the "people who want to take God out of our schools" come in?
In fact, I believe your faith is so important that the government should have no hand in it whatsoever. Now, look at our legislation, national holidays, and political debates, and ask yourself: which religion does the government make the most allowances for? Do we make more Jewish, Hindu, or Christian holidays? When we debate medical care, do we find ourselves arguing over Shinto, Muslim, or Christian concepts? Heck, I've even received email claiming that we should only elect Christian politicians. Ever heard a claim like that for any other religion?
I contend that if anyone's being hypocritical here, it's not me. I think I'll have to confront this guy on Monday. Privately, though; I think the only thing I can even possibly expect is an apology. I doubt I'm going to get anyone to reconsider their opinions or attitudes.
Edit Wednesday, 2010-04-27: I stayed home Monday to help resolve some problems with my wife's business. She recommended not confronting the guy at all, since the only possible result would be to damage our business relationship further. I'll just ignore him until he says something similar again.