christmas charade

By: Derek Dyson

Saturday evening marked yet another annual Holiday Parade of Lights in our fair city.  An event where local businesses and organizations strut their stuff through the packed corridors of downtown skyscrapers; sidewalks teaming with bundled up children and enthusiastic adults, each presumably waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus or a fancy float or something.  I’m not quite sure. What I am sure about is that our esteemed Senator James Inhofe and his majestic steed were definitely not present at this soiree.  For the third year in a row he took a stand and refused to participate in the ancient art of parading, basically because someone changed one word to an almost identical word on his event calendar. One of the major sponsors of the parade, This Land Press, has written on this subject extensively so I won’t go into it here. What I will go into is how our Senator, a man who in ‘94 ran on the platform “god, gays and guns” and actually won (way to go Oklahoma voters!), uses his religion as a crutch to make decisions on behalf of our state on a daily basis, while throwing rational thought out the window in the process.

Let’s take this parade for instance. To Inhofe this is yet another secular “War on Christmas”.  A buzz-word that has been touted by every Fox News analyst and AM radio host in the business for the last 10 years.  Calling it a war is probably a little harsh, but if you’re trying to take Christ’s name out of a holiday that is based on the guys birthday maybe it’s warranted, right?  But more so than every other deity and god-man that just so happened to call December 25th his birthday as well?  Especially considering that almost all of them did so long before Constantine and the Roman Empire decided to sign the day over to Christ in the 4th Century.

Lets start with the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. He was born on December 25th and was well known for turning water into wine when he needed to impress party goers. Two-thousand years before him, the Egyptian god Osiris shared this popular birthday, on which he was born of a virgin and visited by 3 wise men.  During his mortal life, he ran around Egypt performing miracles and other magic tricks for the locals until they got mad and executed him. Not to worry, because 3 days later he rose from the dead and returned to Aaru (Egyptian heaven) to judge the masses for their sins.  There are many more, but I don’t want to bore you with a history lesson. Suffice it to say, December 25th has been celebrated by our ancestors for millennia, not because of Christ, but simply because of an astrological occurrence.

Looking to the stars for guidance, primitive man tried to make sense of a world that seemed chaotic and unfair. In turn, they established elaborate myths around these stars to ease their minds. December 25th is the center of many of these myths, simply because it falls around the shortest day of the year, or the Winter Solstice.  In most cultures it signified the “rebirth” of the crop cycle, an encouraging sign that Spring was on its way. It’s really that simple.

If it’s all that simple, why are so many pundits and political elites crying foul?  Why is Jim Inhofe boycotting a parade that, if we want to be historically accurate, should probably be called “The Pagan Solstice Extravaganza of Wine and Orgies” instead of “Christmas Parade”? Well, that’s simple too. Today in American politics religion is important. So important that 49% of American voters say they would not vote for an Atheist presidential candidate, no matter where that candidate stood on other issues. So important in fact, that guys like Inhofe have to go to extreme measures, more accurately the extreme right, to appease Christian conservative leaders if they want to secure the Evangelical vote.

Shortly after September 11th Pat Robertson interviewed Jerry Falwell, instantly making newsreels because of the incendiary remarks that were made as to why they believed the attacks occurred.  In the interview Falwell boasts “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America…I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.” Not batting an eye, Robertson sits there and willfully agrees.

This is important for two reasons. First because Robertson at that time headed the Christian Coalition, a lobby and activist group that Mr. Inhofe and 41 out of 51 of his Republican peers voted in line with 100% of the time in 2004. Secondly, because six months after Falwells remarks, Inhofe mimicked his words on the Senate floor and took it a step further saying “One of the reasons I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America, is that the policy of our government has been to ask the Israelis, and demand it with pressure, not to retaliate in a significant way against the terrorist strikes that have been launched against them.”  A spiritual door?  So according to Inhofe, god let 9-11 happen because America won’t let Israel nuke its neighbors?  Are those the sentiments of an elected official that you want representing you at one of the highest levels of government?

Well, if you are an Evangelical Dispensationalist and believe that the State of Israel was handed over by god in 1948 in order to spawn the Anti-christ, a necessary step for bringing on the second coming of Jesus and eventually the Rapture, then you’re probably ok with it. As for me, mythological pandering should not be a deciding factor in the diplomatic process, especially concerning the State of Israel.

Inhofe has also attempted to push religiously themed bills through congress.  In 1998 he backed the “Religious Freedom Amendment”, which was an attempt to make things like prayer and religious symbols a staple in the public domain, mainly schools and courthouses.  When asked if he would be ok with providing vegetarian lunches for Buddhists or allowing Muslim students to pray to Mecca five times a day he invoked the ever-present “America was founded as a Christian Nation” response, showing yet another feat of intolerance and cognitive dissonance that is jaw dropping to say the least.

At this point I think it’s important to point out that Senator Inhofe is a ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works and an avid climate change denier. In 2009 he compiled a list of roughly 700 “prominent scientists” who disputed claims that global warming was factual and influenced by human activities.  On this list were men like Chris Allen, who has no college education or formal training in climate science and is a major Creationism promoter for the Southern Baptist Church to boot.  Where did Mr. Inhofe get Chris Allens credentials as a prominent scientist? The same place he got many of the names?  From the Discovery Institute’s list of “prominent scientists” who refute Darwinian Evolution by natural selection of course.  It turns out the Discovery Institute is nothing more than a lobby group with deep pockets and a strong anti-science agenda. A group of people who have among other things, attempted to rewrite the textbooks in many public science classrooms and have a history of funding the all-too-real Creation museums situated throughout the Midwest. Each complete with such attractions as the famous picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur with a saddle and an in depth explanation of how Noah’s flood created the Grand Canyon in a matter of days.

This is where our Senator finds his scientific experts.  In “museums” that attempt to explain to our children that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that humans kept dinosaurs as pets.  All this work in an attempt to uphold their mythical Bronze-age explanations to some of the most pressing and important scientific questions in modern human history.

If these things don’t disturb you, look at it this way.  One of our most powerful elected officials is at least somewhat of a religious fanatic.  He resides on the foremost committee on environmental protection, yet is so anti-science that he refuses to side with the vast majority of international experts on that very issue. He sympathizes with the leaders of the Creationist movement and denies Darwinian Evolution. A basic biological fact that is noticed as so by 100% of the biologist in the National Academy of Sciences.  He does this outright and with no alternative explanation on either of these subjects. And all for one basic reason.  Because his faith and his Evangelical constituents demand it of him.

On the local level we’ve recently heard about Senator Inhofe because he refused to come to a parade.  This pales in comparison to why he’s known on  the national level.  Nationally he’s known for being one of the most conservative, controversial and anti-science members of Congress, where he sits as a ranking member on two key committees.  At the risk of sounding flippant, I propose that next year Tulsan’s get their priorities straight and instead of asking him to a parade, ask him (and fellow voters) if we should have put him in this position of power in the first place.