Wanna know how to make Cancer patients feel better? Fire Santa.
For each of the past two years, hospital volunteer Frank Cloyes spent one day as St. Nick, spreading good cheer and snacks to patients sitting through chemotherapy treatments. The 67-year-old James Island resident, a retired insurance executive who calls himself a “gregarious guy,” paid for his own costume rental.
On Tuesday morning, a volunteer coordinator told Cloyes his services no longer were needed.
“Because of our state affiliation, we decided not to have a Santa presence this year,” Hollings spokeswoman Vicky Agnew said. Hollings is a part of the Medical University of South Carolina.
Decorations will be “more secular and respectful to all beliefs,” Agnew said. “We don’t want to offend a volunteer with good intentions, but we need to think of the bigger picture. People who are Muslim or Jewish or have no religious beliefs come here for treatment,” she said.
You know who’s offended? I, as a non-Christian, am offended by this intolerance for expressions of religious faith. Christmas is a Christian religious holiday; but the national celebration itself, including all the commercial trappings that go along with it, is deeply rooted in American tradition and should be embraced by all Americans of all faiths. It does not mean you have to be Christian to celebrate a universal message of peace and good will to all men. You might not believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ; but why rain on the parade of those who do?
The concept of Santa Claus himself is more commercial than he is Christian. Why should I, as Jew, Muslim, atheist, whatever, be offended by such a jolly ol’ elf? When I was growing up, my parents celebrated Christmas as an American holiday. We handed out cards, decorated a tree, participated in gift-giving; and I was told that when I woke up the next morning, there’d be presents under the tree from Santa so long as I was not a naughty boy. Oh, and by the way: My mom is Buddhist. My dad a staunch atheist.
Bah humbug, said Cloyes, a self- described libertarian with no religious affiliation.
“Santa is a tradition and everyone loves him,” Cloyes said. “It’s just something that makes people happy for a while. Kids liked it, staff liked it. People took pictures.”
What is so harmful about the sight and sounds of a Santa Claus to chemotherapy patience in a hospital ward?
Apparently, though, some did feel exclusion:
In a statement Wednesday, Hollings spokeswoman Agnew said: “When we discussed not having a Santa presence this year, we were actually responding to previous complaints from patients with other holiday beliefs who felt excluded.”
What’s Santa gonna do to a Muslim kid sitting in the cancer ward? Say, “Nah! Nah! No present for you!”
Hospital officials based their decisions on respecting “the different cultures and beliefs of the patients we care for,” Agnew said in the statement. Santa and other holiday traditions now will be allowed “because we recognize the emotional benefit to patients,” she said.
Should non-Christians feel excluded during Eid al-Fitr? Rosh Hashanah? Actually, yes, probably so. But that’s because these are strictly religious celebrations without the secularized, universally accessible traditions that Easter and Christmas enjoy in this country for those outside the religious faith. But if they developed traditions over time that became significant enough to be embraced by society at large, why should I, as an outsider to the faith, be offended or feel excluded? If I feel left out on their special holiday, if I don’t want to help them celebrate, that should be my problem; not theirs. Why do I need my faith represented on their dates?
Yes, Christmastime is a Christian holiday. And it’s a time of the year enjoyed by most Americans, both Christian and non-Christian. I refuse to say “Winter Holiday” and use other politically correct, all-inclusive terminologies that seek to take the Christ out of Christmas.
As for the 1st Amendment, the way I see it remains as one of religious freedom and tolerance; and that although the (federal) government is prohibited from endorsing a single church as the national faith (the Christian Protestant religion was the state religion for 205 yrs up until 1868 with ratification of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) , it’s not the same thing as divorcing all forms of religious expression in the government square.
Hat tip for story: The Dennis Prager Show