Is dropping of ‘Easter’ an indication that times are changing?

I returned last Saturday from a trip to the Atlanta, Ga., area where I’d spent several days.

On my way through the airport, as I usually do whenever I’m in a strange town, I bought a newspaper. As a newspaper person, I’m always interested in seeing what other people in my business are doing. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed finding out what’s happening in other parts of the world.

One of the stories on the front page of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was about how kiddies in a local community were going to get to have fun in a “Children’s Egg Hunt” presided over by “The Bunny.” The event was scheduled for April 15, the day before Easter.

The point of the newspaper article was that the word “Easter” had been dropped from this and various other local egg-hunt activities, similar to the excising of the word “Christmas” from winter holiday celebrations in some communities and shopping centers, an issue that raised hackles for many last winter.

That this was happening in Georgia, where there were large churches scattered far and wide in the area, south of Atlanta, surprised me a little. But much of Atlanta has become a modern, secular society; and I suppose the old Bible Belt has deteriorated a bit, the closer one gets to the heart of the city.

Let’s face it: An honest view of history and even a casual reading of the Bible reveal that eggs and bunnies really have nothing to do with the event that originated the celebration of the Christian holiday named Easter.

The word “Easter” itself is derived from Eostre, a pagan spring fertility goddess commonly associated with rabbits which are, well, fertile. Eggs, too, have been a sign of fertility in many cultures for millennia.

But egg hunts are fun and bunnies are cuddly and cute and only those who have done the research have any real idea of how they ended up as an integral part of our nationa’s celebration of Easter. They are part of many church activities, around the Easter season, for those reasons.

Theheart of the Christian Easter celebration, though, is really about commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ after he was crucified.

People are upset over the dropping of terms such as “Christmas” or “Easter” because they see that as an indication of how our country appears to be increasingly moving away from the Judeo-Christian tradition that has been dominant since the European settlers first arrived.

Christians, particularly those who believe that the Bible should be interpreted literally, have come under increasingly aggressive criticism in recent years, with words such as “intolerant” and “fundamentalist” thrown about, sometimes savagely. These developments shouldn’t shock anybody. Jesus himself predicted more than once that his message about sin and man’s need for his work of salvation would be very unpopular.

As “political correctness” appears to be replacing the traditional religious influences that have governed our society in the past, it should come as no surprise that egg hunts and bunnies may be undergoing name changes as people try to reconcile their secular views with these traditions.

But before they just dump the lingo and move on, they would be advised to review what it was that motivated their forebears to go to church on Easter Sundays past and worship the one who is the real reason for this season.