Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday - Not A National Holiday

"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." George Washington

"...the loathsome combination of Church and State. Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone." Thomas Jefferson

I was surprised today by a seemingly nationwide shutdown for a Christian holy day. I might take some hits for this, but I don't think Good Friday should be a national holiday. It's started to creep in as one under the radar and that's a bad precedent, especially now -- the Christian Right has too much power as it is.

Private business owners can do what they please, but neither the US government nor any other public institution or industry should close--or provide employees with a paid vacation day--for a purely religious observance.

Most Jews are required to take an unpaid "personal day" for Yom Kippur, the most solemn and sacred of all Jewish holidays. Why should Christians get a pass on Good Friday at taxpayers' expense?

Yes, everybody gets time off for Christmas, but that's become essentially a secular holiday worldwide -- not to mention a retail bonanza that literally impacts America's GNP.

Our sanctioned national holidays honor tradition and history (Thanksgiving, President's Day), those who've fought for our country (Memorial Day, Veteran's Day), those who work for it (Labor Day) and our nation's birthday (July 4th.) They make sense. They're relevant to all of us, regardless of race, creed or religion.

But Good Friday? It is a day of profound significance to the Christian religion. And I respect that. But what about separation of Church and State? If we're going to ignore that constitutional imperative in order to make Good Friday a national holiday, why don't we celebrate the day Moses received the Ten Commandments -- the foundation of practically all faiths and civilized cultures?

Frankly I'm not totally comfortable with Martin Luther King day either. No, don't accuse me of racism, that's not my point. Of course Dr. King was a giant in the fight for civil rights and should be honored for his achievements.

But we've had many, many other giants who've contributed hugely to our culture, often to our very lives. Why not honor Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks? The list is virtually endless.

I sincerely believe there's a touch of racism--or at least pandering--in singling out one person of color above all others of any race for the honor of a Federal holiday. The creation of Martin Luther King Day was a political move meant to placate one segment of the population.

It goes without saying that African Americans are owed this country's most sincere apologies for the abomination of slavery and our equally sincere gratitude for their many outstanding contributions.

But what about Japanese and Chinese Americans? Hispanic Americans? Irish Americans, Polish Americans, Italian Americans? That list is pretty endless too. Each group has its own heroes and nationally observed celebrations, but none are ratified by the US government as a Federal holiday on the taxpayers' dime.

And let's go back to Moses for a moment. The Jewish holiday of Passover celebrates not only freedom from slavery but also God's delivery to Moses of the Ten Commandments -- arguably the most pivotal event in the creation of Western civilization, certainly of modern religion. The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, in case you didn't know. So if we're going to justify a religious observance as a national holiday, why not Passover?

I'll tell you why. Because no matter what the Constitution says or our founding fathers intended, America is a Christian country. Run by Christians in deference to Christian values and sensitivities. Anybody who thinks otherwise hasn't been listening to our own president and his cohorts in Congress.

And from what we've seen of their brand of Christianity, the last thing we need is more of the same.

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Blogger Ivy said...

Thank you... Loved the post!!

11:17 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

"arguably the most pivotal event in the creation of Western civilization"

arguably indeed

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason for business and other government agencies observing Good Friday is the fact that most of the U.S. population identifies themselves (At least in some way) as christian. If all of the Christians took a personal day to observe Good Friday, things would be shut down anyway...

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

obviously you are not christian, otherwise you won't be against it, how come you do not say the same thing for christmast day???
let me tell you something, you Are in a CHRISTIAN COUNTRY, and you should respect that. In other countries, such as Muslim countries, Eslamic days are national holidays, and they are 3-4days, so i think the is the least we can ask for, Good Friday is the most important event in the christianity, so it HAS TO BE A NATIONAL HOLIDAY

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your hebeness is showing

3:20 PM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

I allowed the above comment to publish to show true ignorance in all it's Christian tolerance glory.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I do feel that Good Friday should be a national holiday I do not disagree with many of your arguments. In the Catholic faith Good Friday is meant to be a day of silence and reflection, as we mourn for our savior who suffered and died so that we could be free. It is my belief that we should honor this as a national holiday not because we are a catholic country but rather out of respect for our fellow Americans who are Catholics. That being said I think that the pivotal holidays of other faiths should be honored as well. While I only have a limited knowledge of Judaism and Islam I know that they too have days of observance which are meant to be reflected upon. Not that every holiday in each faith should be a national holiday but possibly Easter, Passover, and the Islamic equivalent. This is important in America because our nation is a melting pot of traditions and beliefs that are greatly different and it is high time that we start respecting one another's differences. We should also be educated about our differences so that instead of fearing the unknown we embrace and respect it. If we could do that we may not be fighting the war we are now. I think as a people we need to stop being close minded and start educating ourselves about others' differences so that we can be united as a society. Instead of closing out religion we should learn about all religions to gain a better understanding of one another. We need to start caring about our fellow Americans! If we accomplish this we can show our government we are not a Catholic country but rather a country of many religions and beliefs, all of which are important in our society. Our differences after all are what make us unique and great.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sally
I think you have twisted those so called quotes from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. And you need to do better research about the founders of this country and why we have the freedoms here in the United States that other countries don't have. It is because of the Christian roots that this country was based on that you have the freedom to say the things you have just said. Noone is going to come and shoot you here for this stuff you have posted, but if you were to bad mouth for example the Islamic religion in their countries, chances are you would lose your life. So I just say to anyone that opposes the freedoms that we have here, just because it comes from Christianity, search your heart and look for the TRUTH on the subject, which comes from the Bible, God's Word. All of the laws in this country come from the Bible. Freedom does not mean free from religion and freedom requires responsibility and work. Most people don't want to do much of either these days. And if you don't like it here go to another country and live there, so you can see that even with the problems we have here in the United States, its still the best in the world and you won't lose your life for saying and doing what you like to do. As a Christian I don't condemn you for saying or thinking what you have, you certainly have that right, but don't be taking away my rights as a Christian to believe and say what I want to. Besides, why do you hate a God that loves you and wants the best of everything for you? I pray for you and that God would make Himself real to you and show you His loving kindness and grace. Its there for everyone that wants it....Jennifer Vance

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jennifer, pray for our troups, not for bloggers. Plus, if anybody in power wanted to make Good Friday a holiday, it would have been done by Bush and friends. Im Christian but we should let everybody pray how they want, not have the country tell them.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Jennifer I will be praying with you for Sally. As a Christian it is our responsibility to pray for the lost.
In response to the above post, the country is not telling anyone how to pray. There are many people who don't even know why they have Good Friday off and just enjoy having an additional day off.
I love the Easter season, though at times it can be saddening as many people don't know about the real reason we celebrate it or choose to deny Him.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Edicto San Didymus said...


In a previous posting on this subject you wrote:

"Our country has learned the hard way that allowing a single religious group to lead a nation is to give its zealots the power to deny basic freedoms."

Can you please direct me to just what you are referring to?


12:36 AM  
Blogger Edicto San Didymus said...


In a previous posting on this subject you wrote:

"Our country has learned the hard way that allowing a single religious group to lead a nation is to give its zealots the power to deny basic freedoms."

Can you please direct me to just what you are referring to?


12:36 AM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

Ralph, you have only to look at the current US Supreme Court as overbalanced with Conservative Christians by Republicans with avowed equally Christian agendas.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your article but your first quote is from the Treaty with Tripoli, not from george Washington. If you want to be believed or your opinion respected, you need to do better research.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Edicto San Didymus said...

That is true what Barry has said, the Treaty of Tripoli is the source of quote...and it gets assigned to George Washington because he is the one who appointed the diplomat Joel Barlow who later negotiated that treaty after Washington had retired. What is odd is that the Arabic version had not the clause, and subsequent treaties with Tripoli (as war broke out anyway and treaties drawn anew) also had not such a clause. Further, other treaties with the European powers in that time period opened with language such as "In the name of the Holy Trinity". So treaty writing was rather directed to the audience it was for.

As for the Treaty of Tripoli, the Muslim countries wanted assurances that the US was not a state-run church government like the European counter parts that declare religious wars and crusades against Muslims. That, and the fact that nine of the US states had their own state run churches or church services paid by state tax payers, puts in perspective what is the heart of the federal First Amendment clause "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" is a reference that the federal government was not set to enforce desecularization of state-run churches of the day (predominantly the Congregationalist denomination across several states, and so not make a European style state church on the whole country. In that time frame a "single religious group" was synonymous with a Christian sect and not the gamut of any other religious system whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, or other. There were not much of a presence of other religious systems to get into differentiating among different sects among them outside of Christianity.

5:05 PM  

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