Should Canada have a ‘national’ Christmas tree like in Washington, D.C.?
Answer: Below the surface of
this seemingly innocuous question lurks some weighty issues. Among them
are the rights of religious minorities, “reasonable accommodation” and
the rights, we sometimes forget, of the majority.
I don’t see any harm in having a seasonal Christmas tree as a temporary
national symbol. As a member of a minority religion, I am very grateful
to be living in Canada, under a government that generally has a good
record in protecting the rights of religious minorities.
The federal government has already passed several resolutions that have
condemned the vicious, systematic persecution of the Baha’is in the
Islamic Republic of Iran. I am grateful for their efforts. It
understates the situation to say that religious minorities in the
Middle and Far East are not given the same consideration.
A ghettoized world has become a thing of the past. Religious pluralism
and interfaith relations promote the knowledge of religious traditions
other than our own. This knowledge should include, not only the
acceptance of the validity of all the world’s great religions, but also
the recognition of the importance of their holy days. Good wishes, at
least, will help to spread the joy of the season.
The various Christian confessions still find themselves in the majority
in Canada. Why should any member of a religious minority begrudge the
majority religion the celebration of its most important seasonal
festival? Resentment of the lowly Christmas tree suggests an
anti-religious, uncharitable attitude. It is good to recognize the joy
others find in celebrating their religious festivals and to share in
In our time, political and theological correctness have gone wild. They
have become not-so-subtle techniques of manipulation, agenda-setting,
and control. Why, for example, should we change the name of a Christmas
tree to a “holiday tree”? We all know where it comes from.
In such a diverse society as Canada, it would be impossible to
adequately satisfy all the imagined slights and possible offences that
some members of religious minorities might make to the existence of the
“Christmas Tree.” “Reasonable accommodation” must be reasonable. -