Lee, Stark, Woolsey oppose pro-Christian bill

woolsey.jpgRepresentatives Barbara Lee, Pete Stark and Lynn Woolsey were among nine House members — all Democrats — who voted yesterday against a Republican-sponsored resolution “recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, had introduced H.Res.847 just last week; the bill’s text states that the House recognizes “the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world…expresses continued support for Christians… acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith… acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization… rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians… and expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.” Another 10 House members — including one Republican — voted “present” on the bill rather than choosing a yea or nay.

pete-stark.jpgThis seems to be a direct reaction to the House’s 376-0 vote in October for H.Res.635, recognizing the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and stating that the House “recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world… expresses friendship and support for Muslims… acknowledges the onset of Ramadan… and conveys its respect to Muslims… rejects hatred, bigotry, and violence directed against Muslims… commends Muslims… who have privately and publicly rejected interpretations and movements of Islam that justify and encourage hatred, violence, and terror.” Woolsey and Stark had voted in favor of that resolution; King, incidentally, was among 41 Republicans and one Democrat who had voted “present” on that resolution.

lee3.jpg“It is disturbing that a small number of representatives support Ramadan and Islam but not Christmas and Christianity,” Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel — a Florida-based nonprofit conservative litigation, education and policy group now waging a “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign” — said in a news release.

Lee, D-Oakland, said Wednesday that “As a person of faith, I take the values and spirit of Christmas very seriously. But this resolution is an affront to the fundamental belief in the separation of church and state. To use Christmas to advance a political point, as this resolution does, is extremely cynical and contrary to the spirit of Christmas.”

Said Stark, chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee: “I thought it was inappropriate to celebrate Christmas the day before President Bush was going to behave like the Grinch by vetoing legislation that would have provided health care to 10 million children. The veto just didn’t put me in the Christmas spirit.”

So the House moved to reaffirm the faith already practiced and a holiday already observed by about 84 percent of Americans; Muslims, in contrast, represent about 1.6 percent of the U.S. population and are often taking heat — almost always without merit — for endorsement of terrorism. Who needs a show of support from the House? And is this what the House should be doing while there’s a war on, the economy seems precarious, millions remain uninsured and other pressing issues remain unaddressed?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Cheryle Medley

    Thank you all for keeping Church and State separated. Tell the others to stop wasting time and get the insurance for kids going, and, get us out of Iraq.

  • oakpundit

    It’s not enough to simply oppose this bill. What’s more important is opposing the way
    the Bush Administration has undermined scientific research in this country by trying to
    control the grant process. The Bush administration has extended it’s wide, interfering ignorant and meddlesome political claws into places it has no business going. Stop the phony Christians who benefit from medical research from interfering with women’s abortion rights, research and medical practices which promote benefits for human kind like embryo research. Due to the backward religious apocolyptical nature of the Bush regime the US is losing hundreds of scientists who not only move abroad, but leave this backward nation after their training and return to their
    own countries to do the kinds of research the Bush Administration has made impossible in this country.

  • Hazel Wingate

    If the government would stay out of people’s religions and customs, trying to pass a Bill to secure our right to celebrate Christmas would not be necessary. The article reads that 84% of Americans already celebrate Christmas. The 1.6% of Muslim Americans being offended by our already established religion and custom is the reason for the Bill. The 1.6% of Muslims knew that we were a Christian nation when they chose to move here so I can’t understand why the government and the other powers that be are taking our rights from us in favor of the Muslims. 1.6% does not a majority make.

    The fact they are associated with Terrorism can’t be helped.