ben stein defends christmas…sort of. well, not really.

medium_ben-stein‘Tis the season to be jolly, to hang our stockings with care, to go dashing through the snow, and, sadly, to unwittingly promulgate false Christmas messages supposedly penned by prominent individuals. I’m talking about the ongoing holiday-themed commentary, supposedly penned by political veteran (and sometimes TV and movie actor) Ben Stein.

You’ve probably seen or read the commentary to which I’m referring.

Very insightful and very true….Take a second to read this:

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as “Holiday Trees” for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America . . .

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t 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.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

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 a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in 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 neighbour 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 okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. 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. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

While the sentiment here is sincere, there is one, important detail that is conveniently omitted: Ben Stein did not write this commentary. His comments account for about 31 percent of the words and sentiment. In fact, the opening paragraph about holiday trees is false and has been previously debunked. The White House continues to call it a Christmas tree (Ben Stein never spoke to that).

Within the body of the commentary, Ben Stein is responsible from “I am a Jew” to the “But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from” paragraph (although it was paraphrased in this reprint). Those statements were lifted from a 2005 commentary on CBS Sunday Morning.

The remaining 69 percent cannot be attributed to Ben Stein. They were loosely based—and I do mean LOOSELY—on comments by Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz. It’s also fair to point out Dr. Benjamin Spock’s son did not commit suicide. That is false. His grandson, however, did commit suicide, but it’s still an awfully tenuous (and offensive) corollary to argue Dr. Spock’s teachings were somehow responsible for that tragedy in any way. It’s worth noting Anne Graham Lotz never said such an offensive statement, either.

My problem is not with the overall sentiment espoused in this essay, even though I disagree with portions of it. My problem is the popularity of this phony essay. It gained attention because it was supposedly penned by that affably funny guy from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. In reality, it is the contrivance of a dishonest, cynical, anonymous person with an agenda and an axe to grind. If you bought into it as a Ben Stein commentary, you were hoodwinked into giving credibility to something Ben Stein never said. That fact alone should disbar the person who first cobbled together this diatribe as well as the diatribe itself. Fruit from the poison tree, so to speak.

I don’t like being the guy who says Santa isn’t real, but it pains me when fables are misattributed to prominent people, intentionally or otherwise, as a means to gin up credibility for someone else’s views because the original author knows it can’t stand on its own merits. It pains me when people are swindled into believing in something that does not exist. It frustrates me when a person lies in the name of their beliefs and is allowed to perpetuate the lie unchecked. I’m not chastising anyone, personally, for buying into this myth. We all fall prey to Internet lore more often than not. But this hoax is rooted in animus, not harmless hijinks. And it’s time to pull back the curtain.

I agree a person should feel safe to hold true to his or her convictions. But those convictions must be held in a transparent, authentic way and rooted in honesty. Masking it behind false pretenses lacks credibility. The Ben Stein Internet hoax doesn’t stand up to the truth and authenticity test. At all. It isn’t worthy of reading, forwarding and appreciating. Doing so only perpetuates the lie and validates the original liar’s dishonesty. This piece of lore belongs in a trash can, not your Facebook news feed.

Facts matter. The truth matters. How we arrive at a conclusion is just as important as the conclusion itself. In the case of the Ben Stein Christmas fable, the end does not justify the means. I don’t need to hide my views behind a celebrity’s name to validate that.


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