Monday, December 10, 2007

Do they know it's Christmas?

Start the Week posts a story about research, published today by the thinktank Theos, on how well people know the Christmas story. It finds that 3/4 of people know the story in general terms, but only 12% have 'detailed knowledge' - e.g. that Jesus family fled to Egypt after his birth to escape Herod.

Meanwhile Trevor Philips, the governments equality guru, has waded into the debate over nativity plays (which seems to be this years version of the 'Winterval' lights story). On the radio this morning (and in the Guardian online) he was making an interesting argument: that banning nativity plays because 'they might offend people' actually plays into the hands of extremists and xenophobes.

The standard justification for marginalising the Christian story is that it might offend people of other faiths, yet these people are more than happy to celebrate Christmas and have a school nativity play. So it turns out to be a trojan horse at best, and a blatant lie at worst. Instead, what happens is that people of other faiths get blamed for their not being a nativity play, and the rejection of other elements of what a traditional British Christmas is supposed to be about. So councils etc. who blame non-Christian faith communities for the removal of Christ from Christmas are actually fuelling community tension, and playing into the hands of the BNP and their like.

On a lighter note, despite the young being, according to Theos, those least likely to know the Christmas story in any detail, they are also the most frequent visitor to our door to sing carols. Well, not carols. And not singing either. However, the dance routine to 'Santa Baby' by last nights 5 teenage lads was pretty good. I asked them to learn a carol and come back in Christmas week for some chocolate.

Off to see the school nativity play now....

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