The delicate politics of school holidays (COMMENTARY)

Hussein Rashid is a professor of Religion at Hofstra University, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Truman National Security Fellow. He works at the intersection of religion, art, and national identity. Photo by Ali Ansary

(RNS) The decision by the Montgomery County (Md.) Board of Education to remove religious names from school holidays, scrapping “Christmas” for “Winter break,” may be a smart political move, but it nonetheless postpones a more substantial conversation.

The board’s vote was based on the request of Muslims for the schools to recognize two important Muslim holidays in the calendar. There is a potential for backlash against Muslims in this decision, as the so-called “War on Christmas” intersects with Islamophobia.

More than anything, the change in name avoids a needed conversation on the role of religion in the public school system.

Changing school calendars is a politically difficult maneuver because it makes statements about community identity. Our initial school calendar was determined by a mix of agricultural schedules and dominant religious thought. The result: summers off to work the land, and the end of December off to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Despite changing economies and demographics, we hold on to this system because it tells a story of who we are as a nation.

Inclusion on the calendar is an important symbol of belonging. Montgomery County only included Jewish holidays in the 1970s, at about the same time many other public school districts did the same, despite Jews being part of the American story since its inception. Muslims want to be part of that narrative as well.

When up to a third of all African slaves brought to this country were Muslim, no one can argue that Muslims were not instrumental in creating the United States. As more pockets of established Muslim communities get involved in American civic life, they want the same treatment as other groups. It is not just a legal issue, but one that speaks to how the country deals with difference.

When they do not see their religion being recognized by the schools, students may feel isolated or be forced to make difficult decisions between religious observance and academic success.

And that’s a choice nobody wants to make.

The request for religious holidays, in general, is problematic. The increasing religious diversity of the country means that the state will prefer some religions over others, violating the First Amendment’s prohibition on an official “establishment” of religion. Yet even adding Muslim holidays, which are not on fixed dates, privileges some Muslim communities over others, making the state function as Chief Theologian.

The decision to remove the religious names of the holidays gives a thin cover of separation between church and state. Yet when the board states that the decision was made in response to requests by Muslims, that seems to shift the blame for the “loss” of Christmas to those advocates. Even though the dates for the Christmas recess do not change, the loss of the name fits neatly with the “War on Christmas” rhetoric, and Muslims can easily become the focus of a backlash.

Hussein Rashid photo by Ali Ansary

Hussein Rashid photo by Ali Ansary

Many Muslims actually want to help preserve the celebrations of Christmas, and early reports indicate that local religious groups see clearly the politics at work. However, in an environment of rising Islamophobia, the board has to be more aware of what it says. It risks alienating Muslims students twice: by not granting the holidays and by making them scapegoats.

The core issue is how school calendars should deal with questions of religion. The educational demands in a modern secular society should require more school hours, not fewer. The entire calendar needs to be rethought to increase classroom hours, and arrange holidays around educational needs, such as state-mandated testing. Potential high absenteeism is not a reason to close the school. Individuals, not the state, should make the choice regarding religious observance.

At the same time, in both the public and private sector, reasonable accommodations for religious observance seem to work well. There is no reason schools cannot do the same. Doing so would recognize the worth of each student, without overburdening the school with constant fights around the calendar.

Montgomery County says it’s following the examples of other school boards, but that just means no one is addressing the real question.

(Hussein Rashid is a professor of religious studies at Hofstra University and associate editor of Religion Dispatches. He is also a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Truman National Security Project fellow, and a senior fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.)


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  • The reason Christmas is so special is cause it reminds us Christ came for us.
    People who say Jesus was just a prophet don’t make sense cause no true
    prophet can be revered if they are a liar so if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God
    He was a liar and can’t be revered of a true prophet so either He was a liar
    or He was the Messiah/only way to heaven! Revelation 21 says Jesus was
    there from the beginning and first born over creaton refers to rank not that
    Jesus was created. God came down to us and Mary was a virgin so the birth
    of Jesus was a miracle not a creation as some try to say. Psalm 22:16-18
    and Isaiah 53:3-5 are very,very specific about Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah!

  • Hello again my Trinitarian friend!! I enjoyed our last encounter.

    Might you give me your interpretation of Mark 13:32, wherein Jesus says that no one knows the date of the end of the world is unknown to everyone, including himself, but then says that the Father does know the date, despite he himself not knowing.

    I am interested to know how this makes sense from a Trinitarian viewpoint, of God seeming to say that he does not know a fact, but he alone knows that fact.

  • Fourth Valley-Hello. While Jesus was on the earth He had the fullness of
    God upon Him yet was subjected to go to the Cross to fulfill Bible prophecy
    so while on earth He didn’t know but now He knows cause He is now back
    with the Father/Trinity in heaven/He is eternal with the Trinity/Godhead.
    Revelation 21 says Jesus is the first and the last/beginning and the end.
    The Trinity is the one God with the three different parts in one so while on
    earth Christ was subjected to the will of the Trinity to fulfill Bible prophecy.

  • How hard is it for a school district to treat Muslim holidays the same way they have been treating Jewish ones? Both are not fixed by the traditional solar calendar dates.

    Jewish holidays are generally left to the discretion of the community depending on the size of the given religious population. Some don’t have school those days, some just don’t schedule major things for those days, some make them excused absences. No reason why Muslim holidays or those of any religion can’t be treated the same way.

  • But larry! that makes Christians not special, and denies them the chance to be persecuted when someone says “Happy holidays” instead of Merry Christmas.

    What’s wrong with you!?!?!?!?

  • Emmanuel means God with us so that also shows that Jesus is part
    of the Trinity/Godhead because Emmanuel means God with us.

  • Interesting view!!
    So is it like God placed limits on his own omnipotence during his time on earth (not sure if that would be possible) or is it more like God separated a piece of his mind, placed it on earth, and then rejoined with it post-crucifixion??

  • Not sure “Emmanuel” is proof of anything. Names can be varied and symbolic, and the name “God With Us” doesn’t mean the person of that name is God. Names exalting God were especially common at the time of that prophecy. “God with Us” does not mean “I am God”, and it is a name that follows common God-exaltation name formatting:

  • Fourth Valley-Our limited minds can’t grasp it. On the Cross Jesus
    cried out Father…why have you forsaken Me? We can’t wrap our
    limited minds around how great God is so that’s why we need to
    Repent/read our Bible/follow Him because we are all sinners
    that are all in desperate need of forgiveness from God. That’s
    why we all need Jesus but we must Repent because two guys
    were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went to
    heaven cause only one guy Repented/had a change of heart
    about their/his sin. Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel.
    Only Repenting then trusting in Christ saves. We must Repent!

  • Huh, a disappointing answer. It still seems to me that Jesus emphasized God as a separate entity through the things he said. Otherwise in Luke 22:42 he’d be begging himself for mercy not by his own will, but by his own will.

    Since the issue is so complex, one would think God would make an effort to spell out Trinitarianism, rather than leaving it in subtext.

  • And if we’re going by Jesus’ names, we can also look at “Messiah”, or “Christ”, both terms meaning “Anointed by God”… the name in this instance would seem to imply a separate entity from God, unless he anointed himself.

  • Fourth Valley-The Trinity can be confusing but Jesus is God but
    God has the the three parts God the Father,Holy Spirit and Jesus.

  • Fourth Valley-Jesus was subjected to the will of Trinity/Godhead while
    on earth so yes He said many things that seem confusing to us but
    it was because He was subjected to will of the Trinity yet He had the
    fullness of God upon Him to do miracles. God bless.

  • When up to a third of all African slaves brought to this country were Muslim,

    Thanks for selling us your war booty. Pity for you they’re all Baptists, Methodist, and Pentacostalists these days (and a century ago, and two centuries ago).

    Per Robert Spencer, the Muslim population of the United States is reliably estimated at 3 million, or 1% of the total, which some Muslim spokesman like to pad. Per City-Data, it’s 1.5% of the total in Montgomery County, Md (the Jewish population is 18% therein). So, you have a small minority disproportionately composed of recent immigrants clamoring for recognition, and the liberals in charge respond as expected, by insulting the majority. Par for the course.

  • IN Lutheran theology its part of Jesus humiliation ..His humbling of himself
    for us all ..before he rose from the dead
    Jesus chose not to use the full display of his powers before his exaltation .
    which is rising from the dead .


    This creed is named after St. Athanasius, a staunch defender of the Christian faith in the fourth century. It was prepared to assist the Church in combating two errors that undermined Bible teaching. One error denied that God’s Son and the Holy Spirit are of one being or Godhead with the Father. The other error denied that Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person. The Athanasian Creed continues to serve the Christian Church as a standard of the truth. It declares that whoever rejects the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of Christ is without the saving faith.

    read rest here

  • Robert Spencer? Really? His opinion on the subject of Muslims is akin to asking David Duke about the African American experience. He’s full of crap anyway. The Jewish population (or predominantly African American) Montgomery County MD is 3%. You forgo any credibility by referencing him here.

    That being said, Free Exercise of religion is not dependent on demographic size or perceived political clout. Why shouldn’t they clamor for recognition? There is plenty of ways reasonable accommodation can be made and a history of doing so.

    Finding excuses to attack the religious rights of others (while trying to stretch one’s own to a ridiculous degree) is par for the course for conservative Christians. Whereas they expect people and the government to bend over backwards to follow their views, they make no effort to do so for others.

  • Correction Montgomery County is not predominantly African American. (I am willing to admit when I make a goof)

  • Lutheran dogma, especially its rampant antisemitism, was very useful for the Nazis in getting people and their churches to become willing participants in crimes against humanity. The Lutherans made up the largest faith group among the Nazis.

  • While having so many Government Holidays kept in line with the idea of peaceful co-existence of all religions, there have been demands from various public bodies that the system of a multitude of religious holidays is hampering economic activities to a great extent. The past two Central Govt. Pay Commissions have recommended the abolition of all Central Govt. Holidays on religious festivals, and instead, substitute with three national Holidays, i.e., Independence Day (15 August), Republic Day (26 January) and Gandhi Jayanti (2 October).l

    It was also recommended to increase the amount of existing Restricted Holidays (Optional Holidays) depending on one’s religious persuasion from existing two to eight. The rationale being, 8 holidays can more than cater for the festivals of any particular religion. So there is no point in having more than these many number of holidays, since religion does not warrant a Hindu to celebrate Eid or a Muslim to celebrate Diwali.

    With the proposed system, however, it was left to the individual to choose which 8 Holidays to celebrate, irrespective of his religious belief. However, this recommendation has not been accepted by the Govt. of India, fearing a loss of popularity, and thus Indian Govt. continues with an unusually large number of religious holidays as compared to most other countries.

    This is why people shouldn’t load their calendars with so many holidays. Keeping adding holidays is a slippery slope to a huge mess. One religion wants their holidays on the calendars leads to the next and leads to the next to having a huge Indian calendar messy pile up. First Christian holidays, then Jewish ones, then Islamic ones, then Buddhist ones, then Hindu ones, then Bahai ones, then Sikh ones, then Jain ones, the Taoist ones, then Confucian ones, then Pagan ones, then Wiccan ones, then Scientologist ones, where will it end?

  • This reminds me of so much of the saying that when a Christian shares his faith, it’s called love, but if one of another faith shares his with a Christian, it’s persecution.

  • I fail to see how allowing others to have equal recognition of their beliefs is “insulting the majority.” Are they personally calling out Christians and causing them insult or hardship? I believe they are just requesting equal recognition and allowance to practice as they believe, which, as I recall, is protected by our constitution.

  • I also fail to see any insult when this phrase follows their request that they be allowed equal freedom to practice as they choose, “Many Muslims actually want to help preserve the celebrations of Christmas…” Is it really so hard to allow others to pray as they choose?

  • Larry, thank you for being an open minded, free thinking human. The world could use a few more people such as yourself. 🙂

  • The trinity is a theological position, has been tried by centuries of testing and trying. Jesus IS God in the New Testament. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been thoroughly debunked on trying to trash Jesus. Like JW’s, Muslims have the right to believe whatever they want to about Jesus, BUT, so do Christians.

    Now with Islam, a “religion” so full of violence weirdness and incredible “Biblical” errors, if i were a Muslims (which will never happen), the last thing I’d do is point to other religions and say they are wanting.

    When Muslims and Islam stop attacking, murdering and subjugating non Muslims, then the world can take them as another group just waiting for eternity to see who is right.

    Muslims need to remove the millennial old logs in their eyes before they ever dare point to problems in others.

  • Atheists are persecuting Christians. Like the ghouls that cruise Christian websites and forums. They are just to cowardly to just come out and be what they are. Hateful, anti-Christian bigots.

  • Notice that the descendants of slaves NOW, have CHOSEN to become Christians and preach the Gospel as did Paul and the others.

    Islam is forced on people NOW with murder and . . . YES . . . slavery as the reason for becoming a Muslim.

    Muslims are even more intolerant of “others” than the garden-variety atheist.

  • I wouldn’t care if Islam and Muslim life was taught in any scholl as long as the REAL history of Muslims and Islam were taught in totality.

    No one is going to rush to convert to the most intolerant belief system the world has seen. Compared with Russian Communism and Nazi Germany Islam rates as one of the most oppressive movements in history.

    Let’s just teach the truth about Islam.

  • No one’s ‘free exercise’ is appreciably hampered by failure to offer certain conveniences and failure to offer public ceremonial. If Mr. Rashid wishes to take his children out of school for his holidays, let him do it. No need to disrupt anyone else’s work schedule or vacation schedule, nor any reason to offer the pretense that no one holiday is more consequential than any other in that particular community. I attended grade school in a suburban township with two huge synagogues in it; Rosh Hoshannah and Yom Kippur were not holidays in that town’s schools; the observant Jews pulled their kids out of school on those days, as I left early on Good Friday.

    Scheduled holidays properly take into account demographics, because there are social costs associated with enforced leisure (or, as Michael Kinsley put it a generation ago, “we have to have Christmas off; if we’re to get any work done, we cannot have Hannukkah and Ramadan too”). Kinsley was of the view, addressed to other Jews like himself, that pretending that the matrix in which you lived had no particular character (or was equally divided among all religious groups) was pretty silly and likely to be a source of a mass of petty conflicts you didn’t need.

  • Not much time for the history of the Islamic world. Getting the young properly drilled in the fundamentals of American history, geography, and civics will consume all the time you have for most students (and quite a mess of them will then forget everything of consequence). Those are the subdisciplines you need to impart a baseline of civic competence, and you’ll still fail. More purely academic interests like European history or world history or more involved excursions into American history would be apposite for a minority of secondary school students who are interested in a focus on academics and have an adequate baseline. Even there, you’d not be inclined to devote more than a unit to the Muslim world in a survey of world civilizations. Once over lightly.

  • Yes, Muslims are doing everything they can to impose their religious views and cultural values on everyone else. I agree with Dave V, lets teach the full truth of Islam about how Mohammad and the Koran authorize the use of war and killing to impose that religion on others.

  • Karla,

    I can respect that one cannot fully grasp every single thing about God, nor did he intend us to do so, but here are a few things you might consider. Why is the “Jesus” part of God referred to as “the Son?” Why is the main figure of the “Godhead” called “the Father?” If he intended for us to know him as a trinity, why would he use these terms that would only confuse us? Couldn’t Jesus call himself something more descriptive like “the right hand of God” or something to explain this idea of a Trinity better than a Father/Son relationship?

    When you look at the Jews in Bible times, they were God’s chosen people before they rejected Jesus. Did God ever teach them that he had three personalities inside himself? If you read Deut. 6:4, he told the Israelite quite the opposite.

    Another point to consider is 1 Cor 11:3 which states that the head of a man is Christ… and the head of Christ is God. How do you explain that if Jesus were in fact God and equal to him? Would that mean that man is the same as God and Jesus as well? Once again, this is written as if they were two distinct persons.

    One last point. Where is December 25th mentioned in the Bible? Where were Christians ever even told to celebrate Jesus Birthday in the Bible? The only command Jesus gave in this regard was to observe his death. The notion that Christmas is required to be a Christian is false, because no scripture ever even mentions it or demands it. You might say that Christians should celebrate it because it is a longstanding tradition, but I would encourage you to read Col. 2:8 in regards to doing something because it is a tradition.

    You seem like you have done a lot of research on these matters to convince yourself that what you believe is true. I only hope that you will consider what I have mentioned and make it a matter of prayer. One thing that God will give you is wisdom and understanding if you ask for it and truly want to know who he is.

  • Jesus didn’t get any holidays and neither should we. Every day you must struggle. Follow his example or face the punishment to come.

  • Habakkuk 1:12a – Are you not from everlasting, O Jehovah? O my God, my Holy One, YOU DO NOT DIE. (God is immortal, He cannot die)
    Romans 5:6 – Christ DIED for ungodly men… Rom. 5:8 – while we were yet sinners, Christ DIED for us. (see also 1Thess.4:14; 6:10)
    Luke 1:31-32 (the angel, Gabriel said to Mary) 31 And look! you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 This one will be great and will be called SON of the Most High, and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father. (Psalms 83:18 states that JEHOVAH alone is the “Most High” over all the earth. Gabriel told Mary she was to have “the SON” of the Most High God)
    John 8:54-55a – Jesus answered: “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, the one who you say is your God. 55 Yet you have not known him, but I know him.
    John 20:17b – (Jesus said) “I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to MY God and your God.”
    Revelation 3:12 – (Jesus)  “‘The one who conquers—I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out from it anymore, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem that descends out of heaven from my God, and my own new name.
    The scriptures tell us Jesus was not equal in knowledge or authority to his Father. This was not only during the time he was on earth.
    John 14:28b – (Jesus) the Father is greater than I am.
    Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.”
    Malachi 3:6 – “For I am Jehovah; I do not change…”
    Many thousands of people saw Jesus while he was on earth. John 1:18 says no one has seen God at any time…
    You MUST RECOGNIZE Jesus and his Father are TWO separate individuals.
    You seem very sincere and have a zeal for God but not according to accurate knowledge… continue to pray and to ask for understanding and you will receive…

  • @Dave V
    Jehovah’s Witnesses do not “trash Jesus”…. It’s because we fully believe and trust in him that we follow his commands.
    As he told his apostles: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love . . . You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:10-14) What did he command his disciples? (Matthew 28:19-20) 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.
    We believe Jesus is the King of God’s Kingdom and we honor him by doing the things he asks of his followers. We show love, not only for our brothers and sisters but for all others. We do not take up weapons to kill our fellowman. Most other religions, “Christian” and otherwise, have no qualms about going to war whenever their governments tell them to…

  • Christians are persecuting Atheists. Like the ghouls that cruise Atheist websites and forums. They are just to cowardly to just come out and be what they are. Hateful, anti-Atheist bigots.

  • Jim Shorts-Thank you for your feedback. The Trinity can be/get
    confusing but Revelation 21 says He is the first and the last the
    beginning and the end. I didn’t do research to convince myself
    but I did Bible studying to better understand His Word/the Bible.
    The Trinity/Godhead can be confusing but the main point is that
    Jesus was not created/a created being but He/Jesus is our Lord.

  • @rob, Re: the Trinity doctrine in history
    At Nicaea, did the bishops in general believe that the Son was equal to God? No, there were competing points of view. For example, one was represented by Arius, who taught that the Son had a finite beginning in time and was therefore not equal to God but was subordinate in all respects. Athanasius, on the other hand, believed that the Son was equal to God in a certain way. And there were other views.
    Regarding the council’s decision to consider the Son of the same substance (consubstantial) as God, Martin Marty states: “Nicaea actually represented a minority viewpoint; the settlement was uneasy and was unacceptable to many who were not Arian in outlook.”5 Similarly, the book A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church notes that “a clearly formulated doctrinal position in contrast to Arianism was taken up by a minority only, although this minority carried the day.”6 And A Short History of Christian Doctrine notes:
    “What seemed especially objectionable to many bishops and theologians of the East was the concept put into the creed by Constantine himself, the homoousios [“of one substance”], which in the subsequent strife between orthodoxy and heresy became the object of dissension.”7
    After the council, disputing continued for decades. Those who were for the idea of equating the Son with Almighty God even fell out of favor for a time. For example, Martin Marty says of Athanasius: “His popularity rose and fell and he was exiled so often [in the years after the council] that he virtually became a commuter.”8 Athanasius spent years in exile because political and church officials opposed his views that equated the Son with God.
    So to assert that the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. established or affirmed the Trinity doctrine is not true. What later became the Trinity teaching was not in existence at the time. The idea that the Father, Son, and holy spirit were each true God and equal in eternity, power, position, and wisdom, yet but one God—a three-in-one God—was not developed by that council nor by earlier Church Fathers. As The Church of the First Three Centuries states:
    “The modern popular doctrine of the Trinity . . . derives no support from the language of Justin [Martyr]: and this observation may be extended to all the ante-Nicene Fathers; that is, to all Christian writers for three centuries after the birth of Christ. It is true, they speak of the Father, Son, and prophetic or holy Spirit, but not as co-equal, not as one numerical essence, not as Three in One, in any sense now admitted by Trinitarians. The very reverse is the fact. The doctrine of the Trinity, as explained by these Fathers, was essentially different from the modern doctrine. This we state as a fact as susceptible of proof as any fact in the history of human opinions.”

  • Karla,

    It’s interesting to note what John 17:3 brings out, when Jesus was praying to his Father, Almighty God, as follows:

    “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the ONLY true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ .”

    Jesus referred to his Father as the only true God. He did not include himself, nor the holy spirit, which is the active force of Almighty God which he uses to accomplish his purposes.

    In addition, by reading 1 Corinthians 15:-25-27, we can see that Almighty God, who’s name is Jehovah (Psalm 83:18), has given much authority to Jesus, his son, so that he is in a higher position than angels and men; but definitely not equal to himself or above himself.

    However, 1 Corinthians 15:28 brings out:

    “But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the SON himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that GOD will be ALL things to everyone.”

    This only confirms that Jesus, the son of God (whose name is Jehovah), was not equal to his Father and our Heavenly Father, Jehovah, when he was created by him (Colossians 1:15), while he was on earth, and now, when he is King of God’s kingdom or heavenly government which has been established in the heavens.

    Jesus’ appearance on earth and death as a perfect man without sin, who died faithfully to his Father, was only required because of man’s inherited sin, imperfection and death (Romans. 5:12; Matthew 20:28).

    Otherwise, he would not have needed to be born on earth and die for us; since we would have been perfect, without sin, had our first parents not sinned against God.

    Therefore, at the end of a Jesus’ millennial rule over mankind on earth, Jesus will no longer be a mediator between imperfect mankind and God, his Father.

    Mankind will be perfect, sin and death will not exist, and as 1 Corinthians 15:28 brings out, Jesus, God’s son, will hand over to his Father, Jehovah God, all right of rulership over perfect mankind, back to him.

    All mankind will finally be able to communicate freely with God, without the need of Jesus, our present mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and have a very close relationship with God forever on earth, as was his purpose for Adam and Eve, and ALL of their descendants. 😀

  • CMR,

    Ditto, my dear brother! And as indicated at 1 Corinthians 15:25-27, Jesus, who was given much authority by his Father, Jehovah God, to be above angels and mankind (but never equal to him or above him), will subject himself to his Father, at the end of his millennial rule.

    Jesus will then hand back to his Father all rulership over mankind (1 Corinthians 15:28), so that God, his Father, will be all things to everyone. Jesus will no longer be required to be a mediator between imperfect mankind and God, since mankind will finally be perfect, without sin! 😀

    We can finally maintain a very close relationship and communication with Jehovah God for eternity on earth! 😀

  • Yes, it should be noted that none of the birth dates of Jesus, or other faithful servants of God, are ever mentioned in the Bible. Only those birthdays of pagans (2 times) are mentioned in the Bible, and led to a detrimental outcome (Herod the Great and Pharoah’s birthday). (Genesis 40:20; Matthew 15:6-10, when John the Baptist was beheaded).

    I refuse to celebrate birthdays, pagan holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween, since they were never celebrated by Jesus, his disciples, apostles and 1st-century Christians!! 😀

  • Karla,

    If you read the context around your scripture in Revelation 21, you will see that the scripture you quoted is talking about Almighty God, it doesn’t say that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.

    If you look into when the Catholic Church started teaching this false doctrine, it was the 1st Council of Nicaea. Here the Church debated on whether or not the Father and Son were equals. Interestingly there was no trinity at this point. There was nobody claiming that the Holy Spirit was equally part of the Godhead at this point. It wasn’t until later that the Holy Spirit was added and the trinity was formed.

    Just because somebody in your Bible study group has told you that the Trinity is without question true, doesn’t make it truth. I’m assuming that anytime someone asks a question in your group that nobody can explain, the answer is that God is mysterious and can’t be explained? If that is the answer that someone, who is supposed to be teaching you, is giving then you might try doing some research on your own. It is not true that God doesn’t want you to understand his relationship with his Son. It is human philosophies that have obscured what is true, making it impossible for many to understand.

  • Jim Shorts- We all can’t comprehend the Godhead/Trinity but the term
    Godhead is in the Bible and when Paul was blinded by the Light it was
    Jesus so we can agree to disagree but the main thing people need to
    know is that Jesus was not created. Many also try to say there is no
    hell. The Bible clearly says that there is a hell where people go that
    aren’t saved where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. God bless.

  • Jim Shorts-Jesus said before Abraham I AM! What did God tell Moses?
    He said I AM! Who appeared in the fire with Shadrach,Meshach and
    Abednego? Jesus did! The Trinity/Godhead is three in one, The three
    different parts but one God! Thanks for the feedback/input. God bless.

  • Maybe you might say something that is relevant to the topic.

    I was stumping for consideration of minority faiths, using basic common sense. Evidently such things seem to be beyond some people.

    The only reason this is an issue is because Christians find being polite or considerate to any faith but their own, persecution. Anyone else would just follow the models set forth in other places concerning minority religious holidays.

  • “No one’s ‘free exercise’ is appreciably hampered by failure to offer certain conveniences and failure to offer public ceremonial. ”

    Actually its a very good definition of hampering free exercise. You are preventing the exercise of religious faith that is granted to others as a matter of course.

    Again, this is not an earthshattering problem requiring Solomonic judgment or actions.

    There is nothing preventing Muslim holidays (or any other minority faith’s holidays) from being treated in the same manner as tried and tested methods employed for Jewish holidays for the last 40 years. You are trying to treat this as hypothetical, but in virtually every place in the US there is some mechanism in place for dealing with this.

    God forbid someone adjusts their methods based on demographics. In Deerborn, MI or New York City, days off on Muslim Holidays may make sense given large %’s of Muslim students at a given school district. In other areas, floating holidays seems to be the most appropriate (students get a set number of religious holidays to have excused absences from).

    That all requires a good faith desire to handle the situation in a sane and non-discriminatory manner. Something you do not appear to have an interest in.

  • Jim Shorts-John 1:1-3 also says He was there in the beginning and
    John 1 says in Him all things were made. He is the image of of God
    so the Godhead/Trinity are real/Christ is eternal not created. In the
    beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word
    was God then the Word became flesh. Who is the Word? Jesus is!

  • The only sacred day that I observe is the memorial of Jesus’ death (and not his resurrection), held annually on the corresponding day of Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar. I do not partake of the emblems of wine or unleavened bread since I am not part of God’s heavenly kingdom or government (Daniel 2:44), but look forward to that government’s millennial rule over all mankind in the near future. I am an earthly subject of that kingdom.

  • John 1:1-3-In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God then the Word/Jesus became flesh/dwealt among us! Jesus was there from the beginning is what the Word of God/Bible says. Who is the Word?
    Jesus Christ is so Jesus was not a created being/but eternal with the Godhead!

  • Works don’t save us because even if people do good many works
    they still don’t have assurance if they are going to heaven cause
    they have to earn their way plus they really don’t know if the good outweighs the bad. We need to Repent/trust Christ to be saved.
    Christianity says we can’t earn our way to heaven. All of these
    other false religions believe in works/say you have to earn your
    way/do good but Bible says there are none good…not even one!
    Luke 13 says we must bear good fruit and that fruit is the fruit of
    Repentance not good works cause non-believers do good works.
    Bible says Repent/believe the Gospel to be saved.We must Repent!

  • The majority can handle being insulted. They have political clout to make their will into actions in a far more immediate fashion than others.

    The issue is always really whether the majority is insulting the minority to such a degree as to stripping them of basic rights.

  • From an “Apostolic Monarchian” point of view, Jesus is not another person separate from Father, for He is the very God Himself (Himself from Himself) according to the Spirit. He is also the Son, according to the flesh, being both God and man. His flesh being subjected to His Spirit, Jesus does not reveal the Last Day nor the time when the end of the world will come, because it was not within His Divine will or plans to do so.

  • The following comments quickly turned into the rightness of theological positions rather than the real issue of the article and issue at hand, which is how do we deal with religious issues in a secular society? Sensitivities abound on every side. It seems to me that I would continue to call days off “winter holiday” and “spring holiday”, but also note Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Ramadan in equivalent presentation on the appropriate date. I would advise the students wishing to take time off that they can do so without penalty, not require all of the locale to also accommodate individual holidays. I realize that the “days off” will more likely correspond with the Christian holidays, but that’s to be expected in the US. If they are still unhappy, perhaps they’d be more comfortable relocating to a country in which their religion is in the majority.

  • Why should we follow models for dealing with minority religious holidays which already have a track record of working when we can just make sweeping pronouncements in the crassest, most insultingly sectarian and anti-democratic fashion as possible?

  • The only fair way to do this is by looking at student and staff absenteeism. When politics get involved, you’ll end up with a school year that goes forever because of all the holidays. That’s why, for example, there are so many days in New York City when alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules are suspended. Observant Jews are forbidden by their observance from driving on major Jewish holidays. But other religions want easy-parking days too — that’s why it’s suspended on everything from the Feast of the Assumption to Diwali.
    The other key is education. Most American non-Jews have at least an inkling that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most major Jewish holidays, that most Jews spend those days in synagogue and with family, and that they occur in September and October, at the beginning of the school year. But if you ask most Americans what Eid ul-Fitr is, they’ll probably say terrorist group. It also is complicated by the fact that while both Judaism and Islam use the lunar calendar, only Judaism ties its calendar to the solar year by adding leap years to keep the calendar from moving “back” too far. [The Torah requires that Passover be a spring holiday]. The Muslim calendar does not do this, so those holidays could be around Christmas one year, and around Rosh Hashanah a few years later. It’s something school administrators would have to work around.

  • Revelation 1:17-18 also says Jesus was the first…..there from the beginning!
    It says I Am the first and the last..I Am the Living one and I was dead..behold
    I Am alive for ever and ever! I hold the keys of death and Hades. Who was dead
    went to hell/Hades/took keys back from the devil/then was alive? Jesus Christ!

  • Karla, can you point me to the scripture that contains “Godhead”? I have never seen it and it doesn’t come up in a “search” of the scriptures….

  • Gadsden, Jesus said plainly that he “did not know the day or the hour…. only the Father knows”. Either he was lying or he is not the same being as “The Father”. John 1:18 says, “No one has seen God at anytime…” Thousands saw Jesus while he was among us…. = Jesus is NOT God the Father.
    Jesus is a created being – Colossians 1:15 and Rev.3:14
    Jesus not equal to God the Father – John 14:28 and Philippians 2:5-8
    I believe GOD’S word rather than men…

  • CMR-Jesus did not know while He was on earth because He was subjected
    to the will of the Trinity but now He knows the hour because He is back wtih
    the Godhead. Jesus was not created! Read the Bible…Revelation 1:17-18
    and John 1:1-14. You really need to read the whole Bible not just part of it.

  • CMR-It appears in the King James version.Acts 17:29,Romans 1:20
    and also Colossians 2:9…Colossians says the fullness of God was
    in Him/Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says God was reconciling all the
    world to Himself in Christ so if the fullness of God was in Christ it
    means what we’ve been sayin to the other Jehovah witnesses the
    Trinity is in accordance with the Bible that Jesus was not created!
    All one God with the three parts with the three different functions.
    Colossians says the fullness of the Deity in bodily form and also
    John 1:1-14 says Jesus/the Word was there in the beginning and
    Revelation 1 the whole chapter is good to read too. First born over creation refers to rank not that He/Jesus was created. The Bible
    is also very clear that hell is real where there is weeping and also
    gnashing of teeth. You need to do more rsearch because your
    whole Jehovah witness belief system is off/wrong. Jesus was not
    created! He was Emmanuel which means God with us. The reason
    He didn’t know the hour of His return while on the earth is because
    He was doing the will of the Trinity plus it wasn’t needed to be told
    but now that He/Jesus is back in heaven now He knows His return.
    There are many things us fallen sinners don’t comprehend. Jesus
    was not created/is part of the one God/Trinity/Godhead. God bless.

  • CMR-Revelation 1:17-18 Jesus/the Word says…. I Am the First and
    the Last..I Am the living One. I was dead and behold I Am alive and
    I hold the keys to death and Hades. That is Jesus saying I Am the
    First and the last once again shows He was there from the start/was
    not created. Bible says that in the beginning was the Word and the
    Word was with God and the Word was God then the Word/Jesus
    became flesh/dwealt among us. First born out of hell/first born over
    creation refers to rank not that Jesus was created. Jesus is part of
    the Godhead/Trinity/the image of God/not created so once again
    Bible Scripture shows the Trinity is real. One God with the three
    parts/functions but One. The Godhead/Trinity is real! God bless.