Double standard for religious expression

We’re about to enter the “holiday season,” and rather than the old-fashioned joy of it, we are surely going to enter into another litigious time of year. I’m a little confused over this “separation of church and state” issue that keeps popping up every “holiday season.” The word “holiday” is derived from the words “holy day,” so it’s clear there is something religious lurking around in there.

I’m also hearing a lot about a semi-public area, New York City’s Zuccotti Park, which a mob is being encouraged by public officials to take over and use as a live-in campground to display its anger at the Wall Street crowd and a gazillion other things. Protesters are permitted to defecate in public, urinate on the American flag, display Jew-hating signs, threaten schoolchildren and prevent people from going about their everyday chores, like working for a living. Yet any public gathering of Christians or Jews for prayer purposes would be strictly forbidden by law.

I’ve omitted specifically any mention of Muslims being denied the use of public property for prayer purposes. They are excluded from such foolish constitutional rulings. They have similar exemptions as the Occupy Wall Street people do. On Fridays, at Madison Avenue and 42nd Street, Muslims are permitted to pray in the streets when their mosque is filled to capacity. Astoria, in Queens, is also home to Muslim street prayer without mayoral disapproval or police reaction.

Is there a double standard when it comes to dealing with different religions and the use of public property? Would it be considered unlawful if clergy officiated at the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? What does a Christmas tree stand for, if not the celebration of the Christmas season? How about prayer at the commemoration of a Hanukkah menorah in a public setting? This nation was set up, and has operated beautifully, as a Judeo-Christian nation, so it’s disturbing and a bit frightening that we are slipping into a liberal mindset by undermining these two great faiths while glorifying Islam and the new religion of public expression of lewdness and disorder.

In 2001, New York City Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy allowed prayer rooms for Muslim kids in public schools. After a storm of protests, he rescinded the order. But the message was loud and clear. Public officials from the president to New York City’s mayor fought for the ground zero mosque. It would appear that separation of church and state depends on which church you are dealing with. So what if Obama has a White House dinner with Islamic prayers? His recitation, by heart, of a Koran prayer on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s 2007 radio show should have raised more than a few eyebrows. Especially when he said that it was “one of the prettiest sounds on earth.” A biblical quote would have been treated quite differently.

So with this Christmas and Hanukkah season upon us, I want us to enjoy the peace and love that the Christian and Jewish faith preach without trying to avoid the politically correct eggs strewn about by our leaders. In other words, God bless this great land of ours. Merry Christmas and a happy Chanukah to all!


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Alan Bergstein


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