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.