A small but very vocal minority in the United States is waging an ongoing battle to secularize Christmas. A multi-front attempt for years waged in the courts under the guise of protecting the First Amendment Establishment clause that prohibits the establishment of any one religion by the Federal Government–a clear attempt by the founders to prohibit the U.S. from establishing the Church of the united States along the lines of the British “Church of England.” Unhappy at their ability to erase all references to religion and all displays of religious observance in the courts, proponents of a “god-free” America have increasingly focused their efforts on attacking religion on grounds of “inclusiveness” and general political correctness. In a country where the only recognized sin appears to be political incorrectness, wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” has actually been banned by some retailers in recent years, only to reverse themselves when people made their displeasure known. In the more recent past, a group of atheists posted a billboard in New York’s Times Square demanding that Christ be taken out of Christmas, asking rhetorically “Who needs Christ in Christmas — No one.” And today, as I write this, I saw a news report on CNN about the classic Christmas song “Holy Night” having its words changed when performed by school children in a choir at one American school to omit references to both Christ and to the Virgin Mary. Atheists have long complained about the Pledge of Allegiance containing teh phrase “One nation, under God . . ..” May I suggest “One nation, paralyzed by political correctness” as an alternative?
I accept a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Chanukah” or “Happy Winter Solstice” for that matter in the spirit in which the greeting is offered. My Jewish Friends and colleagues usually wish me a Merry Christmas and I them a Happy Chanukah (or Happy belated Chanukah this year when the holidays do not coincide). How a well-intentioned greeting can be offensive is itself offensive to me. Billboards on Times Square broadcasting “Who needs Christ in Christmas — Nobody” on the other hand are extremely offensive, as are the idiot attempts to “sanitize” “Silent Night” by omitting references to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary in today’s news from some misguided school in the U.S..
Can you imagine the universal (and righteous) outrage if anyone put up a billboard in Times Square with similarly intentionally offensive comments about religious holidays like Ramadan, Chanukah or, for that matter, any religion but Christianity? Humanists, atheists and run of the mill cranks and wingnuts of all stripes should take notice, in case they did not get the memo: Christmas is exclusively about Christ. It is not about comsummerism, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Jack Frost or blooming chestnuts roasting on an open fire, any more than Easter is about chocolate bunnies or baskets of goodies doled out to children.
In our insane politically correct society, anything that offends anyone must be co-opted, changed or banned. (Unless, of course, offense is directed at targets for which the political left feels disdain and contempt, like Christianity (and, to a lesser extent, all organized religion), Conservatives, Republicans (from the right, left and center), Tea Party members, the military, and so on.
If anyone is offended that Christmas is a Christian holiday and “feels bad” about it for much of December, then the response is to secularize the holiday. Ban the wishing of a “Merry Christmas,” and push for getting Christ out of Christmas. And, of course, let’s inject race into the equation. Santa Claus should not be portrayed as a white man. The fact that the character is based on a white Christian Saint of Turkish/Greek origins is, well, irrelevant. Does any thinking human being other than a bigot actually believe that GOD gives a flying fig about the color of St. Nicholas’ skin? Of the race of His only son? Or of yours, mine or of the misguided fools who put up the billboard on Times Square?
I respect all religions and I equally respect agnostics and atheists who question all religion or reject it outright. How could I not, having had friends and colleagues whom I dearly respect who are atheists, Jews, Muslims and, yes, even Wiccans? (Yes, I actually know a good witch or two and care for them no less or more than my good Catholic friends.) I do no impose my religion on anyone or, in general, wear it on my sleeve. If you do not practice a black mass or worship Satan, I will respect your religion too and expect the same courtesy in return. I also give very wide berth to those who would push any religion–including mine–on me or anyone else. But I will not tolerate anyone co-opting a religion or a religious holiday for their own use.
If you like the spirit of Christmas but are not Christian, no problem. Erect your own holiday tree, Chanukah Bush, Winter Solstice Tree, or Frosty the Snowman and have a great time. The spirit of Christmas transcends the religious significance of the holiday; good will is not the province of any single religion and is, in fact, independent of religion altogether. Having said that, Christmas is, has always been and will always be first and foremost about Christ. Anyone who did not get (or does not like) the message is free to foam at the mouth, howl at the moon, and to celebrate (or invent) their own holiday to coincide with the Christian Holiday. Americans can celebrate the season any way they wish, or not celebrate it at all. They can rail against the blatant commercialization of Christmas (and I will agree with them on that front). What they cannot do is redefine a High Holy Day for the vast majority of Americans to suit their political, philosophical or religious predilections. Doing is, well, un-American.