An email and sometimes Facebook post has been circulating false rumors for years. It states that the Obamas refuse to call Christmas trees by that name and say Holiday tree instead: not true. Also not true is the statement’s claim that Ben Stein said that people murder because talk of God is restricted in schools and society.
First of all, the Obamas joyously celebrate Christmas. Here’s a video from the White House of the First Family receiving the White House Christmas Tree in 2013.
Second of all, it attributes a bunch of trivial inanity to Ben Stein, who is a Jew like me as well as a very thoughtful and well-spoken presidential speechwriter, lawyer, author and sometime TV commentator. The thoughtful defense of religious observance that Stein actually shared is in the transcript of a CBS broadcast shared by Snopes:
If people want a creche, fine. The menorah a few hundred yards away is fine, too. I do not like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
But the following trivial phrases attributed to Stein by the authors of the false email/social media post were in reality, liberally quoted from a speech by Billy Graham’s daughter and by the way, Graham’s claim that the daughter of child expert Benjamin Spock committed suicide is false:
In light of recent events .. terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn’t want prayer in body our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. the Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK.
…Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Thanks to Snopes for dispelling the myth about the Obamas and Ben Stein’s comments.