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TORONTO, December 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Greeting a stranger with “Merry Christmas” is a statement of ignorance, and replacing it with “Happy Holidays” would help the battle against bigotry, argues an opinion writer published in The Star this week.

As part of a “Big Debate” feature on the propriety of the Christmas greeting, the Toronto newspaper published a piece by Sadie-Rae Werner, a senior economics student at the Minerva Schools at KGI and founder and editor-in-chief of the school’s independent student news outlet The Minerva Quest. Her answer is a resounding “no,” opening with disappointment that Starbucks backed down from its 2015 move to remove Christmas-specific imagery from its holiday cups.

“When 500 Starbucks cups going walking down the street covered in Christmas trees and reindeer they are sending a definite message about the reigning position of Christianity in our purportedly secular society,” Werner claimed. “The red cup was a step toward atoning for the overt lack of inclusion of other religions in corporate holiday celebrations.”

While the exclusion of Christmas-specific wording and imagery is a source of controversy every year, few if any Christians protest businesses that recognize the holidays of other faiths.

Nevertheless, Werner transitioned to bemoaning the “open disregard and, at times, disdain” she says she has endured upon revealing to people she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. People who reflexively wish strangers “Merry Christmas” should be assumed to be “genuinely ignorant” rather than well-intentioned, she says, because they fail to consider how “extremely diverse and multicultural” Canada is.

Merely granting that strangers who wish her “Merry Christmas” are well-intentioned “means I need to silently accept that my holidays aren’t important; that my faith shouldn’t be openly acknowledged or celebrated.” She doesn’t specify her faith in the piece, but in March wrote a satirical piece about the trials of preparing a Passover meal in India.

“Global anti-Semitism is on the rise, and while it is more complicated than plain ignorance, and saying ‘Happy Holidays’ is not a definitive solution, it’s a step in the right direction,” Werner argues. “The hate that starts with Jews never ends there; it goes to Muslims, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of different political affiliations, spreading to everyone who is not exactly the same as you.”

So far, Werner has found little sympathy for her position among the Star’s readership. At the time of this writing, a poll attached to the article found that 95 percent of 6,629 respondents support saying “Merry Christmas,” while just 4.8 percent agree that it’s potentially offensive. Most responses on Twitter are derisive, as well.

The Star also published a counterpoint article and a letter from a reader defending “Merry Christmas.” In the first, National Council of Canadian Muslims spokeswoman Amira Elghawaby dismissed the notion of a “War on Christmas” but nevertheless defended “Merry Christmas,” noting that “Multiculturalism is about embracing our diversity, not making it invisible. That includes Christian practice.”

Ontario resident Leo Kleiss, meanwhile, wrote specifically in response to Werner’s “tragic” stand.

“She bases her objections on her unfortunate youth during which she had to endure people wishing her that when she is not a Christian,” he wrote. “The irony is she also bases her disdain on inclusiveness which is exactly what sharing Christmas spirit is all about.”