FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council for Secular Humanism Chides Congress for Disrespecting Religions
(December 14, 2007) -- Experts from the Council for Secular Humanism noted with alarm the passage of H. Res. 847 in the House of Representatives. This unnecessary, unwarranted, and bigoted law, under the misleading title "Recognizing the Importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith" passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support It effectively undermines the sort of religious tolerance necessary in these changing times.
Just days ago in the midst of the Jewish Festival of Lights, four Jewish men in New York City were attacked on the subway for replying to a group of ten people who wished them a "Merry Christmas" with a similar greeting: "Happy Hanukkah." For this, these men were first insulted, then beaten. It was a Muslim man who came to their physical defense. The actions of the Congress, by passing the resolution and thus expressing preference to the Christian faith over all the others represented by the diverse population of these United States, encourages this sort of behavior.
The First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty, and of the nonestablishment of religion, was devised to create a secular state in which all religions would be equally tolerated and none given preference. The language of the House resolution effectively undermines the design of the Founders, and creates an atmosphere where non-Christians will continue to be targeted, treated like second-class citizens, and even become victims of violence like those four Jewish subway riders in New York.
Paul Kurtz, CSH chair, stated, "It is deplorable that in this day and age and in light of violence against religious minorities here in the United States that the Congress would stoke those flames with preferential language in support of a single religion." David Koepsell, CSH's executive director, noted, "The First Amendment Guarantee was designed to prevent the sort of religious intolerance that resulted in violence in Europe, and our Congress should respect the intent of the Founders."
We call on the Congress to reject this resolution, to stand up for religious freedom, secularism, and pluralism, and to foster a climate in which all believers and nonbelievers alike are treated equally.