A rule of etiquette—in business, at the dinner table, at the barbershop and elsewhere—is “never talk about religion or politics.” These subjects are highly contentious and usually result in heated argument instead of general agreement. “Never discuss religion or politics with those who hold opinions opposite to yours” has been cited in print since at least 1840. “Do not discuss politics or religion in general company” is from 1879.
The saying was further popularized by the Peanuts comic strip in 1961. The character Linus said, “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people…religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” Linus was also given this line in the 1966 animated television special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Fox News political commentator Bill O’Reilly wrote in 2001, “Your mother probably told you—mine told me—that you should never talk about religion or politics. And what am I doing every night?”
“Be sure to bring up politics at Thanksgiving this year to save on Christmas gifts”—that is, to purposefully violate this family etiquette rule to distance yourself from relatives who you do not like—is a contrary and jocular take on this advice.
Wikipedia: The Great Pumpkin
The Great Pumpkin is an imaginary character in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.
The Great Pumpkin is a holiday figure (comparable to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny) that seems to exist only in the imagination of Linus van Pelt. Every year, Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Each year the Great Pumpkin invariably fails to appear, and a humiliated but undefeated Linus stubbornly vows to wait for him again the following Halloween.
The Great Pumpkin was first mentioned by Linus in Peanuts in 1959, but the premise was reworked by Schulz many times throughout the run of the strip, and also inspired the 1966 animated television special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The best-known quote regarding Linus and the Great Pumpkin, originally from the comic strip but made famous by the TV special, is: “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”
15 February 1840, The Corsair, “The Letter Bag of the Great Western,” pg. 775, col. 1:
13th. Never discuss religion or politics with those who hold opinions opposite to yours; they are subjects that heat in handling, until they burn your fingers; ...
The Letter-Bag of the Great Western: or, Life in a Steamer
By Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Blanchard
12th. Never discuss religion or politics with those who hold opinions opposite to yours; they are subjects that heat in handling, until they burn your fingers; ...
24 September 1879, Iowa Liberal (Lemars, IA), “Etiquette in Conversation,” pg. 15, col. 3:
Do not discuss politics or religion in general company. You probably would not convert your opponent, and he will not convert you. To discuss those topics is to arouse feeling without any good result.
—Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms.
24 July 1905, Muskegon (MI) Daily Chronicle, “Rockefeller Still Target: Ida M. Tarbell Writes of Magnate’s Personality,” pg. 2, col. 2:
“Will it pay our colleges to put over their doors the teaching of one of our present day moralists, ‘Never discuss politics or religion if you would succeed?’”
PEANUTS by Charles M. Schulz
October 25, 1961
LINUS: THERE ARE THREE THINGS I HAVE LEARNED NEVER TO DISCUSS WITH PEOPLE…RELIGION, POLITICS AND THE GREAT PUMPKIN!
Raising Great Kids:
A Comprehensive Guide to Parenting With Grace and Truth
By Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondevan
I remembered what my childhood barber once told me: “If you want to stay friends with people, don’t talk about religion or politics.”
The No Spin Zone:
Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America
By Bill O’Reilly
New York, NY” Broadway Books
Your mother probably told you—mine told me—that you should never talk about religion or politics. And what am I doing every night? Making a career out of talking about religion and politics and everything else on the planet.
Miss Manners: Don’t talk politics or religio
By Judith Martin (Miss Manners)
Published:April 6, 2010, 8:14 AM
Updated: August 21, 2010, 5:32 AM
Dear Miss Manners: What is wrong with people? What happened to the politics and religion rule?
Gentle Reader: What happened to the etiquette rule banning casual social discussions of politics and religion is that it is roundly ignored. At best, it is thought to be a prissy restriction of adult conversation; at worst, it is considered a repression of free speech and the democratic process.
Miss Manners acknowledges that these accusations might have some validity if people knew how to express their opinions civilly and to listen to the thoughts of others with open minds.
But guess what, folks: In this society, most of the acrimony short of violence is over religion and/or politics, and it doesn’t always stop short of violence. And those who are supposed to be dealing with these topics professionally aren’t behaving much better.
All Politics Is Religious:
Speaking faith to the media, policy makers and community
By Rabbi Dennis S. Ross
Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Pub.
As the saying goes, “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company,” as if a person breaks a rule by mentioning something controversial and starting a messy argument.
New York City • Government/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Tuesday, July 17, 2012 • Permalink