Myth Blaster: Ben Stein Christmas Message


The following email is circulating about attributed to Ben Stein on the subject of the Christian tradition of Christmas …

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, bejewelled 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 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 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.

MYTH BLASTER VERDICT: Incomplete quote with additions.
Ben Stein only wrote part of it – original sender of email added in the rest. The chain email author changed and added words within Stein’s original transcript.
Ben Stein, lawyer, author, speechwriter for Richard M. Nixon, actor (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and TV personality wrote, on occasion, several commentaries for the CBS Sunday Morning news program. One of them was entitled Confessions for the Holidays, aired one week before Christmas and recorded in program transcript on December 18th 2005. Presently he writes a segment for the American Spectator in a section entitled Ben Stein Diary. One of them was entitled Confessions for the Holidays, aired one week before Christmas and recorded in program transcript on December 18th 2005. …

CHARLES OSGOOD: We all have our own thoughts about the holidays. Here’s Ben Stein with his.BEN STEIN:  Here at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart. I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I’m buying my dog biscuits. I still don’t know. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores who they are. They don’t know who Nick and Jessica are, either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they’ve broken up? Why are they so darned important?Footage of People magazine and congressional hearing …BEN STEIN: Next 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 beautifully lit-up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees.
[Footage of Christmas trees)BEN STEIN: 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’re slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we’re all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me one bit that there’s a manger scene on display at a key intersection at my beach house in Malibu.
BEN STEIN: If people want a crèche, 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 Christmas. 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 Nick and Jessica and aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we used to know went to.

There are other versions circulating that have added words to the Stein commentary.
The commentary below Stein’s words also includes a quote from Billy Graham’s author (Anne Graham Lotz) was made after the September 11th terrorist attacks. It is a paraphrase.
Chain email author added Dr. Spock paragraph (his son did not commit suicide) – Dr. Spock is blamed for a misguided generation.
Another addition is about Madeline Murray O’Hare. An American atheist, she was murdered, but much about her has been misconstrued in chain email – with some elements of truth like her evilness and conning people out of money
Thanks to J. Bartelson for bringing this chain email to my attention.
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