Rep. Yvette Clarke voted against Christmas!
The first-term Park Slope Democrat was one of just nine members of Congress who last week voted against House resolution 847, a symbolic bill that, among other things, acknowledged “the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith.”
The resolution also “recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world.”
The bill — one of dozens of purely symbolic resolutions that recognize everything from the James River as “America’s founding river” to the passing of Gerald Ford — passed last Tuesday by a vote of 372–9.
But the landslide vote masked the bill’s divisive language, including a pointed reminder that “there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the American population.”
It also suggested that “Christians identify themselves as those who believe in the salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice of their savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God” and that the United States “finds much in its history that points observers back to its roots in Christianity.”
Such language drew the ire of Clarke, despite the fact that she is Christian.
“In this season of giving, love, peace and joy, I am mindful not to allow Christmas to be narrowly defined by an act of Congress or to consent to the pronouncements of others that are not reflective of my Christian experience,” she said in a statement. “I firmly believe that it is the spirit of the holiday season … has taught me to accept the values expressed by a diverse civil society. It is the love for our collective humanity; the desire to live in a world filled with peace and joy that truly defines and unites us as Americans.”
She ended her statement with her own holiday resolution: “Happy holidays and a healthy, prosperous New Year to all.”
Clarke’s objection to the Christmas resolution is somewhat surprising, given her support for similarly worded resolutions about other major religions.
Earlier this year, for example, Clarke voted for House Resolution 635 (which, as you all know, expressed “respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world” on the eve of Ramadan) and House Resolution 747 (which recognized “the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali,” an Indian holiday).
Her spokeswoman, Chic Smith, explained the Diwali vote.
“Christmas is widely recognized around the world, so this resolution was not necessary,” Smith said. “Diwali is a holiday that deserves to be more widely known.”
It’s not the first time Clarke has taken an unpopular stand against her congressional colleagues. Earlier this year, she was the only “no” vote on a proposal to name the library on Ellis Island after the British-born comedian Bob Hope. The bill was approved 420–1.