What next? The folks in charge of franking congressional mail refuse to allow our elected representatives to wish us a merry Christmas. Lest you vainly hope, as I did at first, that this is a noble attempt to demonstrate fiscal restraint, let me disabuse you of that idea. At first glance, the rules appear merely to ban holiday greetings when those greetings are “the primary purpose of the communication.” That makes sense. I don’t want my Congressman to use my tax dollars to send out his family’s Christmas letter. But, as it turns out, not even incidental use of the phrase “Merry Christmas” is permissible. “Happy Holidays,” however, is. The Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott summarizes nicely:

A franking commission spokesman confirmed to The Washington Examiner that Members of Congress indeed cannot wish constituents “Merry Christmas” in any official mailing.

“Currently, incidental use of the phrase Happy Holidays is permissible but Merry Christmas is not,” said Salley Wood.

So it’s true, the elected representatives of the nation that puts “In God We Trust” on its currency are not permitted to use the greeting that has likely been uttered by every living adult American at least once in their lifetimes.

Just another demonstration that political correctness and freedom of speech, faith and thought are utterly incompatible.

An unrelated by related thought for both the PC police and that particular brand of atheist who finds public Nativity displays offensive: Freedom from religion isn’t really possible. Why? Let’s think about it for a moment. What is religion, really, but an attempt to grapple with certain inescapable, inevitable, unavoidable, pesky, problematic questions that plague all of us at one time or another? Questions like: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? And, above all: What happens when we die? Adults sometimes like to toss these questions aside as adolescent incoherence, but they’re not adolescent, even if they are elementary. Not everybody accepts divine revelation, but everybody has a suspicion of an answer to these questions. Let’s work with the last one, as that’s inexplicably the simplest. What happens when we die? Few of us can speak from experience. But, in general, people believe one of two things about it. Either we enter a different kind of existence or we simply cease to exist. Either of those beliefs is the foundation for an eschatology of sorts. Which eschatology you choose, in turn, informs your soteriology. If you believe in existence after death, you will likely seek some kind of eternal salvation — a happy otherworldly existence, in other words — and that will likely require some kind of savior. If you don’t, you’ll look for some kind of salvation here on earth (progress, perhaps, or utopia). Your eschatology and soteriology will inform your morality … and so on and so forth until you have adopted for yourself some kind of rudimentary religion. It might not be the right one — it might not be true — but it’s a religion, nevertheless. It’s no good to seek to avoid every reminder of the questions you don’t want to ask yourself. They’re inside of you, waiting to ambush when a loved one dies or when a child is born or when you lose a job or gain one. The only mature way to grapple with them is to embrace them, to follow where they lead. Those people seeking freedom from religion would be surprised at the freedom they’d find if they would.