The Good Friday Turtle stops by (while James Madison does a facepalm)

The yummy treats that the Good Friday Turtle (if he exists) might bring us next year!

Unlike Christmas and Easter, which unfortunately have become widely commercialized and somewhat secularized, Good Friday remains very unambiguously a religious holiday: specifically a Christian one. Very few people would claim that Good Friday is a secular holiday. There is no Good Friday Turtle that crawls around giving presents to good little girls and boys, no exchanging of Turtles chocolate and pecan candies, no TMNT marathons on TV, no playing of music from The Turtles (though "Happy Together" would make a nice holiday song!).

Although it's nice to think about, no Virigina, there is no Good Friday Turtle. The only reason that someone would treat Good Friday differently than any other day is for religious reasons. It is a religious observance of the day that some guy named Jesus, who only some people believe was the son of their god, died on a cross before going to hell for a couple of days, after which he miraculously (magically) rose from the dead to go back to heaven. All this trouble just so daddy would agree to let some people up into heaven, while leaving the rest burn for all eternity.

Personally, and for the record, I like the Good Friday Turtle idea much better, but the Constitution says people have a right to believe that whole God-sent-his-son-to-be-tortured-to-death mumbo jumbo. The Constitution also tells us however that government cannot endorse one religion over another. So when the Shelby County Clerk in Tennessee reportedly closes on Good Friday, or the state of Wisconsin recognizes Good Friday as a holiday, these government entities certainly seem to be celebrating a Christian-only holiday.

So what's the harm in these and other government agencies closing for Good Friday? What's wrong with people having a day off or people having to wait until Monday to renew their licences? Giving this strictly religious holiday preferential treatment shows an official bias in favor of that religion (Christianity) over other religions or non-religion.

Despite what many religious folk claim, the founding fathers did not intend the US to be a Christian nation, unless you think the entire Constititional Convention did a collective facepalm once they realized they had accidentally left "The United States is a Christian nation" out of the Preamble. Doesn't seem likely to me.

A photo of James Madison after realizing he and other founding fathers forgot to establish the United States as a Christian nation in the Constitution??

The country was intentionally founded with freedom of religion in mind. People may celebrate their religious holidays if they so please, but government is not and should not be involved. Holidays of other religions besides Christianity are generally not observed or usually even mentioned by government bodies, and this is the way it should be. An occasional nod to Jewish or Muslim holidays may occur, but they normally don't shut down government just because some religion somewhere thinks a given day is important to their deity of choice. And that's the way it should be.

Government agencies get around this issue for Christmas because it has now taken on a largely (if not predominately) non-religious life of its own. Few would dispute this fact, although many might justifiably object to it. The main objections to Christmas arise when government steps over the line and starts inserting Christian words and symbols into what has become a secular celebration. Easter has followed Christmas along the path to secularization to a lesser extent (with pagan and secular symbols such as the Easter Bunny, colored eggs, marshmallow Peeps); but since most government agencies are closed on weekends anyway, the issue of officially recognizing Easter by closing offices normally doesn't come up.

But when government or government-funded agencies (schools, libraries, etc.) declare Good Friday to be a holiday and shut down in observance of that Holy Day, they are very clearly moving from secular celebration to religious observance. That's something that government isn't allowed to do. It wouldn't be an honest argument to claim that Good Friday is just part of some sort of long weekend of a secularized Easter, since Christians obviously must separate Good Friday from Easter enough to want a separate day to observe it. Good Friday is clearly, in practice and by definition, a Christian-only holiday. One that most religions don't recognize, and some people object to. I don't want my government telling me or my fellow citizens (whether child or adult) that one religion's primitive idea of human sacrifice to appease the gods is something to be respected and revered. And the Constitution has my back on this one. Religions can teach this, but governments can't endorse it by saying Good Friday is a holiday.

Unless The Good Friday Turtle stops by Tennessee, Wisconsin, or elsewhere next year, bringing candies and presents for all, I expect government to drop Good Friday as a holiday and get back to the business of running the country, not promoting religion.

(This blog was originally posted on I Am The Blog at

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Comment by IAmTheBlog on April 3, 2010 at 9:26am
Thanks for the comments. So it sounds like New Jersey and Tulsa also have Good Friday as official holidays. I wonder how many other places, too? It was late and I didn't look into it, but I bet it must be a large number. It's both ridiculous and offensive.

Howard, that stinks about what happened to you. It's a great example of why government offices should actually be open to serve its constituents. There's absolutely no reason you should have had to wait to get your car back just because of some Christian holiday; they're there to serve non-Christians, too. That was a great idea to include that in your argument to the judge about the fine. Not as good as actually getting your car back when you should have, but still some concilation hopefully.

Sheryl, sorry Good Friday is doubly not "good" for you, despite what Tulsa County thinks. Sounds like your ex is even further evidence towards god not existing.

Marshall, glad you liked the caption. People who say the Founding Fathers wanted a Christian nation just aren't thinking things through, or are being dishonest. Either the founders intentionally left Christianity out of the Constitution, or they were completely clueless (oopsy, did we leave out Jesus? Oh well, I'm sure they'll fix that for us in the 21st century by taking Good Friday off).

Can't people see that the first option is the only one that truly makes sense? I guess when you're blinded by religion, logic doesn't always get through. What you want (a day off) must be what God wants and must have been what the founders wanted since we're God's favorite nation, right? Very frustrating...
Comment by Howard S. Dunn on April 3, 2010 at 3:57am
Good Friday is a State Holiday in New Jersey. They claim it is connected to the stock market being closed that day. I had my car impounded a few years back on Good Friday - and couldn't get it out till Monday because of this ludicrous law. I don't know how it's not unconstitutional. But when I asserted to the judge that I deserved the minimum fine partly because my car was held on a clearly and specifically religious holiday, though I could see he was pissed off, he acquiesced. New Jersey has almost as many lawyers as California I guess.
Comment by Marshall on April 3, 2010 at 2:57am
The caption is hilarious.
Comment by Sheryl on April 3, 2010 at 1:49am
Tulsa County OK closes for Good Friday also, though that's hardly surprising. If I had worked that day I would have never met my ex-husband. Damn that holiday!

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