The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 21, 2013

Rahall: ‘Bah humbug’ to political correctness

Wishes Congress Merry Christmas

U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall III, D-W.Va., said “bah humbug” with political correctness Wednesday and issued a Congressional resolution urging fellow House members to “recognize the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas.”

The resolution also advises that supporters strongly disapprove of attempts to ban references to Christmas and expressed support for the use of Christmas symbols and traditions by any House members who celebrate Christmas.

“To substituting time-honored greetings like ‘Merry Christmas’ with empty phrases such as ‘Happy Holidays’ – I say, ‘Bah Humbug,’” said Rahall. “There’s nothing wrong with publicly recognizing the religious nature and true meaning of Christmas, especially for a nation like ours, founded on the principles of religious freedom and free speech.”

Resolutions don’t have the force of law and don’t have to be signed by the president.

They are issued to regulate the administrative or internal business in the House or Senate or to express facts or opinions on nonlegislative issues.

“As a Christian and American, I find political correctness and the slow drift from the religious tenets of each Christmas holiday to be troubling, for both our youth and our nation’s future,” Rahall said in a statement to media.

“It is fitting and appropriate that the Congress recognize the Christian traditions and symbols of Christmas and encourage Americans to learn about the religious underpinnings of the holiday.”

Last congressional term, Rahall urged House leadership to change the rules regarding Christmas greetings on mailed correspondence— a move that Franking Commission Chair Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., pushed forward this month.

As a result of the change, members of Congress may wish constituents a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” this year.

Prior to the change, congressional rules stated that mail containing holiday greetings like “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” and “Happy New Year” could not be “franked” — Washington lingo for receiving taxpayer reimbursement for postage.

Under the 2011 guidelines, members were only allowed to use language such as “Have a safe and happy holiday season.”

Franking is used so elected officials can keep constituents up-to-date on what’s going on in Washington, but laws forbid them from using the frank to get re-elected or for unofficial business.

Rahall said the framers of the Constitution were “religious men” who sought to “establish a government where the people could practice their faith freely, without government interference.”

“While seeking to prevent our government from endorsing a state religion, the framers never intended to remove references to religion from the political sphere entirely,” said Rahall. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,’ reads the Bible, and the framers certainly believed that.”

Rahall added that children, especially at Christmas, need to know that it is OK to express their faith publicly.

“It’s their right as Americans, and we would do well to exercise those rights and lead by example,” said Rahall.

—  E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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