Australia's Howard calls for nativity scenes

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nativity scene

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has made an impassioned plea to restore the religious meaning of Christmas.

Mr Howard said he had "contempt" for arguments that the religious side of the Christmas season should be toned down by removing Christmas trees and symbols and nativity scenes. He said he had been saddened by the removal of Christmas trees and nativity scenes from public places.

It is thought that the reason behind the removal of traditional Christmas scenes was so that non-religious people and those of other faiths were not offended. Mr Howard said "You don't win tolerant brownie points by pretending to be something that you're not".

Backing Mr Howard, Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby said "We are a Christian country. If minorities are to integrate, they need something to integrate into. I don't think there is any intolerance in saying, 'This is who we are'".

The president of the Islamic Council of Queensland, Abdul Jabal, said "We don't celebrate Christmas but we support others doing so. It's a time of peace and sharing".

Opposition leader Kim Beazley used Mr Howard's comments to attack the government's industrial relations policy saying "I would say this to John Howard and to the Australian people about it, the biggest threat to Christmas in this country is John Howard's extreme industrial relations law". He added that people who wished to take time off work to celebrate Christmas have no rights to do so under the government's industrial relations reforms.

Sources

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