Easter: Christian, Pagan, or Secular?

eggs depicting Jesus; photo from the daily beast

Last week, Bill O’Reilly of The Factor on Fox News Channel was complaining about an elementary school in Alabama not using the word Easter in its spring events. He suggested there is now a war on Easter just as there has been, in his opinion, a war on Christmas. He even brought up the word persecution, meaning of Christians.

I was surprised at his outrage and the position he took on the matter because the school in this case is public – funded by taxpayers.

Screen shot of Bill O'Reilly discussing 'War on Easter'“What’s the problem?” I thought to myself. Easter is a religious holiday – Christian to be exact – and, according to the founding documents of this nation, there ought to be a separation of church and state. Public institutions should not be promoting one religion over any other. Naming school events and activities after a holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ most definitely promotes Christian beliefs as Easter and Christmas are Christian holidays – or holy days. I didn’t see what the big controversy was here.

So, I wrote sent Bill an email and it read, “Bill, Ever hear of the separation of church and State? Easter is a religious tradition and the Constitution prohibits public entities from promoting it. Duh!”

Okay, I admit my letter was a little snarky but keep in mind to whom it was written.

The following evening, I received a text from a friend of mine letting me know O’Reilly read my letter on his broadcast. I watched the rerun of his program at 10 pm and, sure enough, he did read my email with the text showing on the screen. However, he edited out my second sentence. What he read was, “Bill, Ever hear of the separation of church and State? Duh!” (emphasizing the last word).

After reading my quote, the prime-time anchor said something about my needing a social studies lesson.

So, still unsure of how hosting Easter events in a public school jives with the U.S. Constitution, I found a lesson on the history of Easter.

According to the History Channel (and history.com), “Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday”.

Bill O’Reilly, who, if I’m not mistaken, used to be a high school history teacher, calls Easter “a secular tradition of a religious holiday” or something to that effect. And, believe it or not, he refers to his program as “the no-spin zone”.

It seems to me, the attempt of Bill, a proud Roman Catholic, to secularize a religious observance has more spin to it than a bishop’s attempt to justify feeding child rapists with fresh supplies of unsuspecting victims.

If anyone out there can explain to me why public schools in the United States of America should celebrate Christian holidays or, in the event that they don’t they are persecuting Christians, I’m all ears!

In the meantime, Happy Spring!