I was honestly going to just let pass the recent House Resolution vote that’s getting some notoriety wherein 9 Democrats voted “No” on a resolution “Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.” (H. Res. 847.) As linked to by Instapundit, there’s a certainly valid sentiment that we Christians do not need a Congressional resolution to honor Christmas or our faith. But we do recognize the value of principles and there’s a matter, here, that’s all about the principle of the thing.
One of the “No” votes comes from right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA3). Scott has posted on his website an “explanation” of his no vote. (Thanks to Jerry Furman and Carl Kilo for pointing out the links.) Scott’s lame excuse starts with an attempt to leverage his slap in the face as a dig on Republicans for not overriding President Bush’s 2nd veto of a bill designed to widely expand the federal SCHIP program. He then sums up:
Rep. Scott’s decision to vote against the resolution was also influenced by the disingenuousness demonstrated by the resolution’s sponsor and many of its supporters. Specifically, the resolution “rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians.” Sadly, the sponsor of the resolution and many of its supporters do not extend this idea of rejecting bigotry to others outside the Christian faith. In fact, the sponsor and all but three of the original cosponsors voted to allow religious discrimination in employment in federally funded Head Start programs in May of this year; of the three exceptions, one cosponsor had not yet taken office and two did not vote. “Discrimination is wrong in any form,” asserted Rep. Scott. “It’s hypocritical to say ‘discrimination is wrong when it happens to me but not when it happens to you.’ I can’t support that.”
The whole reason this situation is getting any press at all is that these resolutions generally pass with no “No” votes at all. Two such resolutions involve Congress acknowledging the importance of the Indian-Hindu holiday of Diwali (H. Res. 747) which passed by a vote of 358-0 and one recognizing Ramadan (H. Res. 635) which passed by a vote of 376-0. You’ll note not a single “No” vote listed for either of those 2 bills and, yes, Scott was a “Yea” vote on both of them.
In short, the only people in this situation who aren’t extending the concept of rejecting bigotry to people outside of a specific religion are the “No” votes on H. Res. 847 and the people they’ve decided to not extend that courtesy to are Christians. Both of the other resolutions used similar language and called for the respect for and rejection of bigotry against people of the Hindu and Islamic religions. Scott, himself, voted in the affirmative for those resolutions and, as Christians, we’re glad he did. Those are fine things to hope for.
So why can’t he extend that same hope to us? To those people dismissing that concern – and Glenn Reynolds is one of the better known ones – I have to say that it’s a matter of principle, here. In these days when the merest mention of my religion or the most casual representation of any symbol thereof is decried as unconstitutional governmental support for a specific religion, one can’t help but notice when every other religion gets a respectful nod from our federal elected officials but ours gets haughty denials. Islam gets not a single voice in the House raised against calling it one of the great religions of the world and has one of their holiest holidays acknowledged by that same body. People like Bobby Scott and his fellow naysayers just can’t seem to extend that same courtesy to us.
What, exactly, are we supposed to think of that action on their parts? It’s easy to say it shouldn’t matter, but the principles do matter and the principle of the thing should have guided Scott and his fellows to not vote to deny the courtesy. Vote “present” if you just can’t bring yourself to vote “yes” but a “no” vote says you deny that the things resolved in the resolution are so.
Of course, I have a suspicion that the reason Scott and his merry band of naysayers even considered doing this is their complete assurance that there won’t be Christians calling for him to be beheaded or killed in the street. In other words, he feels safe to insult us. Unlike certain other religions, we won’t call for violence against him or any of the others. But don’t expect that we should have to sit still and say nothing when this is the kind action one of our elected officials takes. Principles matter, most particularly in politics, and that’s something Scott should keep in mind next year when he’s asking to return to Congress for another term.