Update: I read that the school concert went ahead, with Frosty the Snowman replacing the modified Silver Bells as the token non-religious song on the programme (Frosty makes no reference to any religious holidays).
Both of my children attended Elmdale Public School here in Ottawa from junior kindergarten to grade six. Now, my kids’ alma mater has triggered a nation-wide moral panic by changing the line “it’s Christmas time in the city” to “it’s festive time in the city” in the song Silver Bells for a grade-two and -three concert.
I’ve already gone on record saying that it’s OK to wish me Merry Christmas — I’m as proud of my Christian background as some of my friends and neighbours are of their Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu backgrounds — but that’s not what this was all about. The primary choir was already singing songs about Christmas and Hanukkah, and the choir leaders decided to add an additional song that was non-religious. I think that the existing non-religious songs Jingle Bells or Winter Wonderland would have been fine, but they decided to take Silver Bells — an otherwise secular pop song about shopping downtown in a city — and replace the word “Christmas”. Silly? Probably. An attack on Christmas or Christianity? Hardly.
The real attack on Christmas and Christianity
Here are some people who might need help understanding the idea of Christmas and Christianity:
- the school parent(s) who decided to take this to the media
- the newspaper columnists who made a primary class holiday concert into a national culture battle
- the talk radio hosts who urged listeners to go after the school and ended up putting the lives of hundreds of small children at risk
- the hundreds of people who called or e-mail messages of hatred (and a bomb threat) to the nice women working in the school office
According to the Christian New Testament, Jesus didn’t have anything good to say about people like this — he far preferred the company of prostitutes and tax collectors to the religious self-righteous. If you are religious (any religion), pray, meditate, or just hope that their hearts can still be opened this season.