Britain’s Race Equality Chief Supports Keeping Christmas in Schools

Well, Christmas is upon us and already there are the seasonal arguments over the public celebration of Christmas in a multicultural society. Now it seems that Trevor Philips, the chief of the Council for Racial Equality, a British governmental body responsible for tackling racism, has expressed his opinion. According to an article I read in today’s <i> Metro </i>, a free paper stocked on British buses, Philips has expressed his own approval of schools performing traditional Christmas plays.

Unlike America, Britain has no constitutional separation of Church and State, and religious education is a mandatory part of the school curriculum. It’s traditional for British primary schools to put on Nativity plays at Christmas, where adoring parents can come to see their children acting out the Christmas story. According to the paper, some schools have stopped staging such places in case they offend some minorities. Philips, however, has stated that he does not support this policy, and was quoted as saying that Christ is the reason we have Christmas, and that it’s okay to put the Nativity plays on.

Now this should be simple commonsense. I’ve atheist friends who have told me about the joy they’ve had watching their children appear on stage in the school Nativity play, despite their lack of faith. While I can understand that some schools may not feel that a Nativity play is appropriate when they have significant numbers of pupils of other, non-Christian backgrounds, it’s largely the case that very few people from non-Christian minorities object to the public celebration of Christmas.

I therefore hope that schools take on board Trevor Philip’s comments, and that parents can enjoy their kids on stage this year being Joseph, Mary, innkeepers, and assorted shepherds and angels without interference from authorities fearing offending someone with a traditional, Christian play.

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12 Responses to “Britain’s Race Equality Chief Supports Keeping Christmas in Schools”

  1. Rich Says:

    To be fair, Christmas is fairly secularized these days.

  2. Frank Walton Says:

    Wow, it seems like you guys have your own version of an ACLU event.

  3. Rich Says:

    Even in America, it’s more “Giftmas”, celebration of consumerism, that “Christmas”.

  4. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Rich and Frank – yeah, Christmas is fairly secularised today, though there was more than a little element of it way back in the time of the Victorians. As for ACLU style events over here in Britain – yeah, we’ve had a few of them. A few Christmasses ago there was a big controversy over attempts by Birmingham city council to replace Christmas with a ‘Winterfest’. Birmingham is England’s second city, and has a very varied, multicultural population.

  5. Rich Says:

    Hey Beast, I ‘m English too. I was wondering, with multiculturalism and all, do they still have those blue “songs of praise” books in schools?

  6. CJ (cj.23) Says:

    Well seems an appropriate place to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and belatedly a Happy Hanukkah (December 4th this year), a joyous Eid (11th – 12th October I think this year). For our atheist friends, happy holidays, and for any Mithraists out there i hope you had a blessed 19th October!

    Still, regardless of beliefs, wishing you all a good year and peace to all people of goodwill on Earth.
    cj x

  7. Rich Says:

    “Still, regardless of beliefs, wishing you all a good year and peace to all people of goodwill on Earth.
    cj x”

    Seconded!

  8. beastrabban Says:

    Absolutely, CJ and Rich!

    An American friend once told me about the advantage of living in Orange County: Chrismukka. I got the impression it’s a mixture of Christmas and Hanukka. He liked it because it meant you got twelve days of presents. Well, it sounds OK if you’re the one getting the presents, but eleven days extra work for Santa!

  9. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Even in America, it’s more “Giftmas”, celebration of consumerism, that “Christmas”.

    Thin point of agreement here, Rich. Tis’ the Season for DEBT for many Americans pulling out the Magic Plastic Slavemaster in order to get that “perfect” item for the little ones or just the main Loved Ones. tis also a time that tries my patience even in the more relaxed setting of foregoing the mall scence (which I hate unless I’m eating something).

    I am not much into non-representation art, a.k.a. “abstract” art. However your phrase reminds me of a media study book I got from college and still have on the shelf after all these years. One of the art photo samples for which we had to write some kind of precis was an abominable pic called ”
    “The American Christmas Tree”—bascially a pile of junk that started large at the bottom and like a Western Spruce or pine tree tapered off in a cone at the top. A Christmas tree of sorts made of electric fans, old Chevys, fridges, tables, lawn chairs, bed frames, sofas, cofee makers, electric parts, old toys, rusted tools, broken excercise equipment, twisted bicycles, dolls, wagon wheels, miscellaneous plastic parts, old clothing, and other assorted throwouts that normally clog the garages of the American home these days.

    Insights on a very different kind of “materialism”?

    So I try and settle for simpler moments where possible and hope this is not the same as being simplistic–or a simpleton. The Red Asian Bistro is a nice place to stroll to to eat over at Sandhills Village.

    OK. Not exactly Holiday food, but hey, it is 77 degrees F here so the effects of Christmas eather are not there either. (I work in Atlanta but live in Columbia SC at the moment. Neither place typically gets that blanket of snow out of kids dreams of sugarplums but strolling down the walks is nice even if too warm for hot cocoa). But at least I can take the kids on a carriage ride and just pretend we are braving the tundra like ice fields to visit Grandma’s hamlet in some dark wood.

    I am a prety fair cook and so the real delictables can be found at home, including eggnog which never touches the lips without nutmeg. At least one old fashioned thing still lingers at our place.

    Merry Christmas and all other pertinent mixes of feeling this time of year.

  10. Rich Says:

    I don’t believe in religion, but I am warmed when I see charitable acts, especially at this time of year. It’s good to reflect on “peace on earth, good will to men”. In all honesty I prefer secular charities that don’t peddle religion on the back of help, but sometimes its hard to say “no”.

  11. beastrabban Says:

    I could envy those temperatures of 77 F, Wakefield. At the moment over here in Britain it’s freezing. It was -2 C in Bristol yesterday morning, so strolling about in the sunshine sounds pretty good about now.:)

    As for rampant consumerism at Christmas, there always has been a touch of that ever since the Victorians re-invented it. I think it’s got out of hand though, as many parents in Britain too are going into debt to get their kids the latest ‘must-have’ game/toy/sports gear/product X.

    As for the comments about modern art, well, the ‘Christmas tree’ made out of discarded old toys is a fair comment on a lot of what goes on. I remember the old jokes about the extensive toys bought for kids that end up broken on Boxing Day.

    Before I end up sounding too much like Scrooge, I do actually like Christmas, and it is great seeing family and friends again that you may not have seen all year, and giving and getting presents, even if most of them end up being socks and aftershave. Well, it’s the thought that counts.

    And you’re absolutely right about it being warming when you do see people performing charitable acts, Rich. People are capable of stunning acts of selfless goodness as well as great evil. One of the blokes Dad used to work with years ago was Yugoslavian. One day at work the conversation turned to earthquakes. I think one of them had been in the news, along with the tragic loss of life. The Yugoslavian guy had, apparently, had some experience of earthquakes, and told them how he had been part of a team pulling the bodies out of the debris after the earthquakes had hit. In one such incident a financial institution or other business had been hit, so that there was money scattered all over the place. So one of the other guys Dad worked with asked the obvious question: in all the chaos, hadn’t he been tempted to pick up any of the cash? The Yugoslavian guy said no. It simply hadn’t occurred to them. They just ignored it and got with the job of trying to get the victims, or what was left of them, out.

    It’s a really heartwarming tale, and you can find similar stories like it from all over the place, told about people who probably wouldn’t think of themselves as being any kind of hero or particularly good or virtuous. And sometimes it isn’t always the grand gestures that make a difference. Sometimes it’s simply a case of a bit of simple courtesy that can make the world just a bit better for someone for a little while.

  12. beastrabban Says:

    I could envy those temperatures of 77 F, Wakefield. At the moment over here in Britain it’s freezing. It was -2 C in Bristol yesterday morning, so strolling about in the sunshine sounds pretty good about now.:)

    As for rampant consumerism at Christmas, there always has been a touch of that ever since the Victorians re-invented it. I think it’s got out of hand though, as many parents in Britain too are going into debt to get their kids the latest ‘must-have’ game/toy/sports gear/product X.

    As for the comments about modern art, well, the ‘Christmas tree’ made out of discarded old toys is a fair comment on a lot of what goes on. I remember the old jokes about the extensive toys bought for kids that end up broken on Boxing Day.

    Before I end up sounding too much like Scrooge, I do actually like Christmas, and it is great seeing family and friends again that you may not have seen all year, and giving and getting presents, even if most of them end up being socks and aftershave. Well, it’s the thought that counts.

    And you’re absolutely right about it being warming when you do see people performing charitable acts, Rich. People are capable of stunning acts of selfless goodness as well as great evil. One of the blokes Dad used to work with years ago was Yugoslavian. One day at work the conversation turned to earthquakes. I think one of them had been in the news, along with the tragic loss of life. The Yugoslavian guy had, apparently, had some experience of earthquakes, and told them how he had been part of a team pulling the bodies out of the debris after the earthquakes had hit. In one such incident a financial institution or other business had been hit, so that there was money scattered all over the place. So one of the other guys Dad worked with asked the obvious question: in all the chaos, hadn’t he been tempted to pick up any of the cash? The Yugoslavian guy said no. It simply hadn’t occurred to them. They just ignored it and got with the job of trying to get the victims, or what was left of them, out.

    It’s a really heartwarming tale, and you can find similar stories like it from all over the place, told about people who probably wouldn’t think of themselves as being any kind of hero or particularly good or virtuous. And sometimes it isn’t always the grand gestures that make a difference. Sometimes it’s simply a case of a bit of simple courtesy that can make the world just a bit better for someone for a little while.

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