I maintain that there is no “war on Christmas”. People began saying “Merry Christmas” less often because they were trying to be inclusive. Some Canadians celebrate other holidays such as Hannukah, Kwanzaa and the Solstice. It would be a problem if people guessed at someone’s religion just by looking at their face. In my recent Our London column, I went so far as to say Christians who are offended need to “move down the pew” to make room for other faiths. I repeated that sentence on air and attracted responses via text. What follows is one of my favourite listener interactions of all time. The incoming text was nearly illegible because of a mix of capitals, lower case letters and strange punctuation. I cleaned it up.
“I can’t believe you would say move down the pew!! Would you tell a Muslim to roll up their prayer rug?!! This is highly offensive and I sincerely urge to you to apologize to all Christians who are under attack from the Muslim and other worlds!!”
My response: “I would ask Muslims to roll up their prayer rugs and move over if they were the majority. Canada is 70% Christian so there’s no need for Christians to behave like a marginalized minority. Do you not believe people of other faiths should be allowed to practice them? I said the same phrase in my recent column for Our London and I stand by it.”
“Oh good for you for your column! It is attacking people of faith and now you are doing it on the radio for your thousand audience! I do not believe you can mean this!”
I thought that was the last of it until a couple of hours later when another text from this person arrived:
“I have taken a ride with a Muslim cab driver and he agrees with you! He would roll away his prayer rug to make room for another belief! My eyes have been opened to making room for all peoples! Have a good day!”
There are many beautiful things about this exchange. Although the texter’s first reaction was that I was disparaging Christians he came to see that I meant the opposite. “Moving down the pew” means making room for others who are different. How does that saying go? “When you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.”
Sometimes these exchanges work in the other direction and I come to see the listener’s point of view. It’s not necessary that everyone agree with me! But this little back-and-forth gave me hope that it’s possible to open our minds in this divisive world we live in. Thank you Mr. Cab Driver for your honest thoughts in what was probably an uncomfortable conversation.