Representatives 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.
This 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.
“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?