January 14, 2011
If there is ever a competition for the most ridiculous effort to promote religion through legislation, there would be hundreds of entries. But we may have a winner. In late December 2010, Florida Senator Gary Siplin introduced a resolution that would designate “Merry Christmas” as the State of Florida's “official greeting” for December 25. That’s right—Siplin wants to regulate the words that come out of Floridian’s mouths on December 25, at least to the extent of pressuring them to conform lest they be accused of using an unauthorized greeting.
What inspired Siplin to introduce the resolution? Siplin’s explanation is that “we all know why people exchange gifts … it’s going to be Christmas, Jesus’ birth … [why] camouflage it?” Siplin also referenced the other items that Florida has officially endorsed, such as its state pie (key lime pie) and its state bird (mockingbird). Why not have an “official Christmas greeting we can all be proud of.”
So Siplin has not only managed to insult the 20% of Floridians who are not Christians, but he has also succeeded in reducing a religious salutation to the status of a trivial state symbol. Good work for one day.
Perhaps Siplin hasn’t gone far enough . Shouldn’t he help Christian conduct become even more pervasive in Florida by placing the state’s official seal of approval on other aspects of the Christian lifestyle? Here are a few suggestions. For the official Florida social event: church picnic. For the official Florida method of birth control: abstinence. For the official Florida dance: none.
And, of course, since Siplin has shown an inclination to regulate speech, there should be additional official forms of expression. For the official Florida response to sneezes: Jesus bless you. For the official Florida expression of romantic love: I want you like the Holy Ghost craved Mary. And for the official Florida excuse for late payment: The tithe is in the mail.