Apparently, I am a soldier in the War On Christmas! It doesn’t matter that I like Christmas or even that I am a Christian. What’s offensive is that I am grateful when someone wishes me Happy Holidays and I wish them the same in return. It’s is appalling and worse, it’s persecuting. (Persecuting in the exact same way that Jews during The Inquisition who refused to convert to Christianity were persecuting Christians.)
Okay, so I fired a shot across the bow by celebrating Thanksgiving for the duration of the day. I didn’t even go online to see what time various stores would be opening on Black Friday. Heretic, that I am.
So how did we get to our present-day War On Christmas? It’s been 15 years since Bill O’Reilly first mounted this particular soapbox to proclaim that the Christmas Warriors want it all: full faith and recognition of the secular as well as the religious traditions by every single person. And by person, they clearly mean corporations too, as we shall explore later.
We generally consult history for clues but the Founding Fathers are absolutely no help here since Christmas was not proclaimed a holiday by the United States Congress until 1870. Whatever did they argue about for nearly one hundred years?
As it happens, it was the Puritans, whilst they were still over in England, who really began the War On Christmas. It was they who:
sought to remove elements they viewed as pagan (because they were not biblical in origin) from Christianity. In 1647, the Puritan-led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting and considering [Christmas] “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior. Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans. The book The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652) argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with “plow-boys” and “maidservants”, and carol singing.
Here in America, our constitution prohibits the state from designating a religion. It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Over the years, we-the-people have questioned and argued amongst ourselves to determine exactly where my free exercise ends so that yours can begin. We have sought to define those behaviors that may favor a particular religion, thus leading to the slippery slope towards “establishment.”
- Does having a nativity scene on the White House lawn lead to the establishment of a Christian religion?
- Does having a tree in a post office lobby lead to the establishment of a Christian religion?
- Does a high school choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus at a public school Winter Concert lead to the establishment of a Christian religion?
- Does renaming the high school Christmas Concert to the Winter Concert constitute prohibiting the free exercise of Christianity?
These are fair and legitimate questions for the citizens of a constitutional republic. It is my opinion that there is no need to escalate the conversation to claims of oppression and therefore a War On Christmas. That only serves to obscure any valid points and make it all about visceral emotions. That tactic is getting so Effing old already.
So, back to those corporate persons. Over these 15 years (and the sticking point for Bill O’Reilly’s Christmas Warriors) is that retail concerns have been replacing the C-word (the religious one not the vulgar one) with more generic words. They stopped saying Christmas in their ads and signs and wishes from greeters and check-out clerks. You and I just get a basic, non-denominational Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings. If you want to hear or see the word Christmas, you either need to have it at your own home or actually show up at your church. And therein lies the offense.
When the clerk at Kohl’s says, “Happy Holidays,” they are persecuting you because this behavior clearly diminishes your Christmas experience. You should get up on a high horse (or at least a soapbox) and proclaim that they are oppressive when they ignore The Reason for the Season™ .
So here we finally hit on the crux of the problem: The Reason for the Season. The Christmas Warriors want everyone to acknowledge that the ton of cash going into retail drawers is overwhelmingly (if not entirely) due to Christmas—the holiday, the tradition, the season. Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and whatever may be nice (even quaint and cute) little celebrations, but they will never generate the kind of cold, hard cash that Christmas has consistently been able to deliver. They want you to believe and proclaim that because of Christmas and only Christmas: Unto us an economic Savior was born. In other words, there better be some serious sucking up to Christians over Christmas or they’ll shut that whole economic thing down, by any means possible.
Because nothing demonstrates spiritually honoring the birth of your Messiah like this:
But what takes the cake is the rampant fabrication of offenses and slights—because all’s fair in love and war, right? And this is war (yes, war, you naive cherubs who thought Christmas was supposed to be about love).
For example, this irresponsible report that school children’s Christmas cards were confiscated and they were being censored. As it happens, the cards were not student cards. In fact, this had nothing to do with the children at all. These were the personal cards that faculty brought in from their friends and families and their bulletin board was moved to a location that would protect their privacy. But why bother with facts when you can paint a Dickensian scene of demoralized school children, being deprived of a tradition they had loved for years and cue up the tear track?
I have never heard a credible report of a child getting in trouble at school for saying the word Christmas. Ever. And yet…
I encourage everyone to celebrate this season in exactly the way that brings them the most love, joy, and happiness, even if that means not celebrating at all. I implore you all to ignore the bloviating gasbags and their minions in the 101st Fighting Keyboard division and do your own thing and let others do theirs.
Or, if you’re so inclined, feel free to pile on.
(But be forewarned: that as of this writing, that meme was posted 14 hours ago and there is not yet one share.)