Holt: Expressing Sense of the House That Symbols and Traditions of Christmas Should be Protected

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Holt: Expressing Sense of the House That Symbols and Traditions of Christmas Should be Protected
by Rush Dew Holt, Jr.
Expressing Sense of the House That Symbols and Traditions of Christmas Should be Protected. Congressional Record: December 17, 2005 (Extensions of Remarks) Page E2566. DOCID:cr17de05-30.
EXPRESSING SENSE OF THE HOUSE THAT SYMBOLS AND TRADITIONS OF CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE PROTECTED
______


SPEECH OF
HON. RUSH D. HOLT
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mr. HOLT. Madam. Speaker, I am troubled and disappointed that this resolution concerning Christmas is before the House today. It is a solution in search of a problem, it is divisive, and it comes at the cost of substantive issues that should be addressed.

There is a sad irony in this resolution. Christmas is supposed to be a season of goodwill, bringing people together, a holiday that brings out the best in us, and encourages us to reach out to our fellow man. Instead, this resolution was created simply so the Majority could pat itself on the back. It is a straw man, and should not have been considered by the House because it is needlessly divisive and inappropriate.

It comes as a surprise to no one, I'm sure, that as a Christian, I support and look forward to celebrating Christmas with my friends and family. But this is beside the point. More importantly, I support and respect the right of my fellow citizens to celebrate religion as they chose.

The House floor should not be manipulated so one group or members can revel in their own sanctimony. What makes America a great and free society is our system of government and our Constitution, which provides each citizen with broad, basic rights and freedoms. One of these is freedom of religion. This right treats all religions, and the lack of religion, equally. Yet today in this resolution, the House singles out one religion over the others, and defends one religious holiday at the expense of others. I wish this resolution had not come to the floor.

Just over a month ago, the House of Representatives unanimously supported a resolution that I sponsored which stressed the need for continuing interreligious dialogue and respect. Rather than "protecting" one specific religious holiday, we should protect and defend all of them. And we should honor the right of every citizen to celebrate or not celebrate these religious holidays as they chose. We should support and protect Hanukah, Kwanza, Diwali, and all other religious holidays. It is my experience that the American people are much more respectful of each other's differences than the House may believe. They do not need to be told to respect the symbols of Christmas. They already do, just as they respect other religions.

Rather than creating a false argument over Christmas, the House should honor the spirit of Christmas through its own actions. Christmas is not about trees and candy canes, it is about a spirit of giving and helping those who need help. If the House wants to do something about Christmas, it should protect the various federal programs the Majority is trying to cut, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and money to help low income families pay their home heating bills. Ending the cuts on these essential programs for the poor and disadvantaged in our society would truly honor Christmas.

I will vote present on this resolution because it does not belong on the House floor.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).