Every year around this time, controversy springs up over how to greet folk and express holiday cheer. Is it “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays”? Maybe “Season’s Greetings” would suffice? This is the first and most obvious indication of the war on Christmas: Don’t celebrate or talk about Christmas because it’s hurtful to non-Christians. But, like most ideas advanced by the progressive left, this just doesn’t hold water. Here are five facts about the war on Christmas.
Fact 1: There is a war on Christmas
Many on the left – especially in the mainstream media – have argued that there is no war on Christmas; that the perception of such an attack is merely the paranoia of Christians.
Snopes even fact checked the war, and declared it both non-existent and irrelevant, since simply not observing a holiday isn’t an attack against the religion. While the point upon which Snopes bases that assumption is true, they ignore – as they often do – the oh-so-progressive tendency to try to force others to accept their beliefs.
In Santa Monica, the town’s Christmas was canceled and the decorations were taken down in 2012 after an atheist protester set up a booth mocking Christianity. Other municipalities and companies have caved under anti-Christian protests and canceled Christmas celebrations, but the suppression of free speech is probably the most obvious and prevalent front. It just isn’t politically correct to greet someone with “Merry Christmas,” as it excludes anyone who doesn’t celebrate that holiday. Just recently, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) highlighted that point in his attempted roast of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. And since some people might not like to hear it, we shouldn’t be allowed to say it.
Fact 2: Christmas is unique: No other holiday has quite the fight against it
Each Christmas seems to be embroiled in more controversy than the last, but it isn’t the only Christian holiday, and the others don’t get anywhere close to the same amount of attention or attack.
Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) is an official holiday in Louisiana and in parts of Florida and Alabama. In Mississippi, municipal leaders have it as an option for replacing any other state holiday aside from Martin Luther King’s birthday.
For believers, Easter is, perhaps, even more important than Christmas. If we look at what it represents, it certainly is more important thematically; it wasn’t the birth of Christ that saved humanity, after all, but the resurrection. While Easter is not an official state holiday, many businesses – and almost all banks – are closed the following Monday in observance.
While every Christian holiday receives some degree of vitriol from the nonbelievers, none seems quite so hated as Christmas.
Fact 3: All religions are protected – except Christianity
While all Christian holidays do catch some flak, the holy days of other religions don’t. If it’s politically incorrect to celebrate or even talk about Christmas, where’s the consistency of logic? Where’s the attack on Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? There are two reasons you’ll never hear folks lambast you for saying “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa.” To the progressive left, attacking any other holiday is an attack on that “minority” religion or race. To those not caught up playing identity politics, you have the right to observe whatever holidays you desire.
So why is Christianity fair game for progressives, while Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, and to some lesser degree, Jews are protected? Everyone is encouraged to speak out against the oppressive nature of Christianity, but none are allowed to do the same to Islam. Anyone daring to point out the very oppressive nature of that religion is labeled an Islamophobe and a bigot in general – probably racist too.
Fact 4: The war on Christmas actually started before there was a Christmas
We might have the idea that the war on Christmas is a uniquely modern American thing, that it’s a product of the breakdown of Judeo-Christian values under the generations-long onslaught of progressive atheism. It isn’t. Sure, that has certainly brought it back into focus more recently, but the true war on Christmas is older than the holiday itself.
Gerry Bowler is a historian who specializes in religion and pop culture, and is the author of Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday. He explained in an interview with Religious News Service’s Jonathan Merritt earlier this year that the war began in the early church.
Theologians disagreed over whether it was appropriate to celebrate the nativity. Some believed that it should become a holiday, but others maintained such non-scriptural festivities were best left to the pagans. Even when they did eventually decide to make Christmas a holiday, they never quite settled on the date. Western churches went with December 25 and Eastern ones chose January 6.
Then began the centuries-long battle to keep pagan practices out. Sometimes that didn’t go so well for the early Christians, hence the Christmas tree, the Yule log, and even the giving of gifts. However, they managed to keep out the practices of transvestism – the dressing up as the opposite gender – rioting, attempts at casting spells, and, of course, the worship of other gods and goddesses.
Fact 5: Commercialization has secularized Christmas for the world, but not for believers
Despite the hypocrisy of attacking Christmas, and Christianity in general, but not other religions or their holidays, the war is kind of ridiculous if you consider how secular Christmas has become. While true believers still understand the reason for the season, the wider world ignores the Christ in Christmas, and focuses on Santa Claus, gift giving, and partying. Much of this is due to the commercialization of the holiday; Christmas is big business, but only if companies can convince folk they need to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars per household.
Some say that not striving to keep a child believing in Santa Claus takes the magic out of Christmas. That’s only true for the nonbeliever. The miracle birth of Jesus – the fact that all things are possible through God – is the magic of Christmas, and to those who believe, that’s enough. But non-Christians don’t have that, and so Santa and his elves serve as a stand-in. The fact that there is a God-sized hole that needs to be filled there only makes it easier for the commercialization to succeed in secularizing Christmas.