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Sunday 22 November 2009

"Merry Christmas", or "Happy Holidays"?

The Telegraph has posted an article on Christmas.

Shutting Office Over Christmas Is Indirect Discrimination Against Other Religions

By Martin Beckford

Non-Christians have to use up their annual leave to celebrate their own religious holidays and so may resent the fact that all staff are given time off over the festive period, it is claimed.


The group says there is no reason for companies to avoid celebrating Christmas for fear of offending minority faiths, although it advises putting up “seasonal” decorations in workplaces instead of religious ones.


Its new guide to the main event in the Christian calendar states: “There is no need to panic about Christmas at work.”

It includes a spoof series of emails from an HR director to staff about a Christmas party, in which she struggles to avoid upsetting Jews, Muslims, alcoholics, homosexuals, the obese and vegetarians by catering for their varied needs.

The five-page guide also shows a cartoon of a white man looking embarrassed as he asks a Sikh colleague: “What do you and your family have planned over the erm… non-religious-specific day off in winter?”

It states: “The Christmas we know today is also built on many other traditions of mid winter celebration and some argue that playing down its religious significance can avoid upsetting or alienating non-Christians.

“The challenge of appearing ‘politically correct’ has led some to the view that imposing a Christian festival on modern multi-cultural Britain is inappropriate.”

But it points out that even Britain’s equality watchdog believes denying Britain’s Christian heritage can be bad for “community relations”.

It goes on: “Many employers display Christmas decorations in the workplace and send Christmas cards, emails etc to employees, customers and others.

“There is no need to stop on grounds of religion or belief, although – unless your organisation has a strong Christian culture or ethos – it may be more sensitive to use seasonal rather than religious imagery.


It goes on: “Because the Christmas season includes a number of public holidays many employers will close their operations for those days, or for a longer period.

“This may leave non-Christians feeling disadvantaged, since some may have to take holiday to participate in their own religious festivals.

“An extended Christmas closedown may therefore indirectly discriminate on the ground of religion or belief so employers should be clear as to the reasons why it is necessary which might include cost savings where the majority of staff will want to take holiday and costs can be saved by closing down completely.”

However the guide tells employers whose organisations cannot shut down over Christmas, such as emergency services or utility firms, should not worry about making Christians come in to work.

It states that “tribunals have dismissed the notion that Christians have any privilege for time off for religious reasons”.

So... tone down Christmas so as not to offend or "indirectly discriminate against" members of other religions, but feel free to ACTIVELY discriminate against Christians if you want to?

Makes perfect sense.

-- Posted from my iPhone via BlogPress app