Monday, July 11, 2005


I overheard some co-workers having a discussion at work today that sounded interesting, so I joined in and asked what the deal was. Apparently, when one of my co-workers was working with another company, she had a manager that was LDS and he decided that instead of taking a holiday on Good Friday like the rest of their corporation, he traded that holiday for Pioneer Day, forcing everybody else there to do likewise. Because of this, she is now adamantly opposed to the celebration of Pioneer Day as a state holiday. "Why does this state shut down," she kept asking, "to celebrate a religious holiday." She was really upset. And I don't just mean bothered--her eye was actually twitching as we talked about it!

I really have a hard time understanding how somebody could get so angry about something like that. I mean, for one thing, I don't even think of Pioneer Day as a religious holiday. In fact, I don't think that the LDS church really has any unique religious holidays. We celebrate Christmas and Easter, just like anybody else. But if we wanted a religious holiday, I would think that they'd have chosen April 6, which has a lot more significance to Latter-day Saints than July 24. Now, it's true that some Mormons celebrate Pioneer Day outside of Utah, but it's also true that some Americans celebrate Independence Day outside of the United States. It's a cultural thing. July 24 marks the passage of the LDS pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, which I think is appropriate to recognize as a state holiday, considering the impact that it had on shaping Utah's history. Massachussetts observes a few holidays relating to the Revolutionary War, for instance, because of the significant role that those events played in their history. That's the spirit in which we celebrate Pioneer Day. I really don't think anybody ever intended it to be a religious holiday.

Of course, according to a recent Supreme Court decision, it apparently doesn't matter what the intent was. They decided that if an imaginary observer might conceivably feel that something endorses religion, that's enough to prevent the government from sponsoring it on any level. So who knows? Maybe one of these days somebody will get angry and sue the State, and they'll have to stop letting State workers off for Pioneer Day. And then maybe somebody will use that as a precedent to force the entire nation (or at least the nation's government workers) to stop observing Christmas and Easter. Or maybe God will see fit to humble us to the point where we're willing to recognize that we depend on Him, and that our nation would never be what it is today without Him, and maybe we'll decide that atheists can either shut up or move to Canada. Who knows?

What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captives free
And not let satan have one more

What if the church, for heaven's sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God's promise
And stormed hell's rusty gates

What if His people prayed
And all who bare His name
Would humbly seek His face
And Turn from their own way

And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day

What if the life that we pursue
Came from a hunger for the truth
What if the family turned to Jesus
Stopped asking Oprah what to do
-- Casting Crowns
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