Appreciate all beliefs this holiday season

Posted on Dec 15 2013 - 7:20am by Guest Writer

By Tahlia Terhune, Columnist

The winter season is approaching again, bringing with it the discussion of holiday controversies. As a religiously affiliated school, Pacific Lutheran University has an important role in deciding how it chooses to associate with religious holidays.

Seeing as PLU is religiously affiliated with a major branch of Christianity, some may wonder if the university should be obligated to give other religion’s winter holidays as much consideration as Christmas. It seems obvious PLU has the right to celebrate Christmas, and annual events like the lighting of a tree on Red Square and a Christmas concert are part of that celebration.

The controversy is not so much a question of whether or not should Christmas be celebrated, but if there should there be a neutral holiday language.

The discussion boils down to whether PLU is responsible for representing a variety of religious holidays, such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or if it should only have to represent traditional Christian holidays.

“PLU should at least stick to its roots and celebrate Christmas during the holiday season,” sophomore Jordan Zeppernick said. He said PLU did not necessarily have to encourage other, non-Christian holidays, but that it should definitely not discriminate against them.

Another student, who does not identify as a Christian and wished to remain anonymous, said, “it would make sense to only endorse or support Christian holidays and celebrations since the school is officially under that denomination. I would’t be offended. I love Christmas and the holidays.”

While many may agree PLU should remember its heritage and be supportive of traditions such as Christmas, it also shouldn’t be scorned for ensuring the celebration of other religious holidays.

The university has a mission statement to uphold: “PLU seeks to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care — for other people, for their communities and for the earth.”

But the students within the PLU community have a freedom of choice and expression to uphold as well that entitles each to her or his own beliefs. PLU should be a welcoming community in which all ideas and beliefs are accepted and supported. 

It is clear that PLU should remain true to its foundation of beliefs and not stress over holiday neutral language. Rather, it should embrace its tradition while allowing for the individual to maintain their own beliefs.

If a club or individual wanted to hang up decorations that represented their religious holiday, then they should feel more than welcome to and be supported in their identity.

Let’s embrace the heart of PLU by creating a healthy learning environment and community while caring for others.