I have just returned from an awards ceremony at my daughter’s public school. It was a great time of celebrating all the achievements of the children (and staff!), that have allowed the children to progress so well in their learning.
It also involved the children presenting some song items.
Including a Christmas carol.
Now, when I heard that the children were going to sing a Christmas carol, I became rather curious. Was it going to be one of the many Santa-Reindeer-Snowman type Christmas carols? Or would it be something with religious (i.e. Christian) substance?
As it turns out, it was a rendition of the Little Drummer Boy, a carol with significant Christian themes.
Yes, at a secular public school, the children (shock horror!) sang about baby Jesus. The King.
Not very secular, or politically correct, I thought.
And so part of me was interested to see if any parent/visitor would complain about the flaunting of religion in a secular public school. I mean, isn’t the average Aussie so anti-religious (read: anti-Christian), that they can’t wait to get rid of the ‘Christ’ out of ‘Christ-mas’? Aren’t Australians rejoicing over the gradual removal of religious (Christian) symbolism from the public square, at Christmas time?
Well, according to some very recent research, it would seem that my fears are not well founded. It seems that the average Aussie does want there to be religious overtones at Christmas time.
In fact, “9 out of 10 Australians think religious traditions of Christmas should be encouraged“, according to new data from McCrindle Research. You can see the guts of it here:
(The report is only a short 3 page PDF, with graphs, and will only take you a minute to read).
Anyway, the above statistic is phenomenal.
Because at the very least, it begs the question as to why so much religious symbolism around Christmas times has been removed from the public square (e.g. how often do you see nativity scenes in shopping malls? What about tv shows about the birth of Jesus around Christmas time, etc?). I can certainly remember the time not so long ago (around 15+ years ago) when the public square was full of Christian symbolism around Christmas time.
So why the change?
The Intolerance of “Inclusiveness” and “Diversity”.
Over in the USA, the University of Maine has banned Christmas and Hanukkah decorations from the campus. Not only so, but the university’s administration put out a statement to explain why they made this decision:
“[T]he university makes every effort to ensure that all members – students, employees, alumni and the public–feel included and welcome on campus. Decorations on the UMaine campus are therefore reflective of the diversity found in our community,” [emphasis added].
Now that’s wonderful.
In the name of ‘diversity’, the university decided to ban any traditional (read: religious) Christmas (or Hannukah) symbolism from campus, in case someone didn’t feel “included or welcome” on campus.
Well, I’m sure those who were hoping for a traditional Christmas on campus feel very “included”, and “welcome”.
And so here’s the point that this story illustrates:
The removal of religion from the public square (particularly at Christmas time) is not driven by your average man/woman on the street: it’s driven from “the top”, by various secular elites, with their secularist worldview.
It’s the secular elite’s view of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ that is driving the removal of religion from the public square, much more so than any large scale public outcry by your average secular Aussie (or American). Of course, since the secular elites dominate much of the public discourse, and public education, their views inevitable filter down to the average man/woman on the street…but according to McCrindles’ research, it’s happening much more slowly than I imagined.