For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 15 Dec 2013.
It’s great to see nativity scenes and hear traditional Christmas carols in stores and malls in Sydney again this year. Elsewhere, the so-called culture wars guarantee that religious symbols have no place in public spaces.
But American religion Professor Martin Marty has an interesting take on the debate over public Christmas symbols. He says:
I’m dreaming not of a white Christmas, but of one with many colors in which neighbors fill their own lawns with Christmas crèches and decorations, or their own airspace with carols and chorales of their choice for themselves and fellow-believers. Leave the public places alone.
There are so many other sites where particular forms of worship are not only licit but encouraged. The churches, pollsters tell us, are seeing declines in attendance. But such sanctuaries are open and welcoming to those who would “keep Christ in Christmas.”
It would be good if the Mandela spirit of reconciliation caught on among more of them and spread to the public sphere.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.