Endorsing Myths

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In commenting on this Pseudo-Polymath post, it occurred to me that, even though it's stupid to call this sort of thing persecution (as Mark does not) and probably false to conclude that it means Christians and those of Christian influence don't have much of a voice (as Mark does), it's pretty dumb to say that singing Christmas carols in a public school or putting a manger scene on government property is somehow an endorsement of religion. Why? Well, is an image of Santa Claus an endorsement of the Santa Claus myth? Is it an endorsement of the Holy Grail myth to show Raiders of the Lost Ark in school or an endorsement of the Robin Hood stories to have a play about Robin Hood? How, then, is it an endorsement of any Christian doctrine or practice to have a play about the story of Jesus' birth, to display a scene of that birth, or to sing Christmas songs about that birth, if the purpose is simply to relate the significance Christmas has to many people? That doesn't mean the people running the show agree with all that.

Not too long ago I witnessed five people enthusiastically singing classic Christmas hymns. As far as I know, not one of them believed a word of what they were saying. One of them was the chair of my department. I know nothing of his religious views, if he even has any. Another was a professor I once worked for and her husband. They're Unitarian Universalists. I didn't know the other two. They obviously weren't endorsing anything about the message of Jesus, the doctrines people might hold about him that these songs expressed, or the moral views such doctrines entail. A publicly-funded chorus singing Handel's The Messiah does not endorse the content of what they sing. They merely sing it. This is just something I don't understand about the secularists' complaints here.


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