Christmas is a holiday that most Americans associate with all manner of symbols, from candy canes to crosses, decorated trees to dangling lights, snowfall to Santa Claus. It is next to impossible for us to imagine Christmas without also thinking about some combination or other of these signs.
Sadly, it has also become impossible for those of us in contemporary America to think about Christmas without thinking about “the war” that various media outlets assure us is being steadily waged against it.
About this “War on Christmas,” this Christian and veteran lover of Christmas has more than one thought to share.
First, for certain, our world consists of a not-insignificant number of anti-Christian zealots who are determined to eradicate from the public life of American and Western culture every last vestige of Christianity.
Second, it is indeed Christianity, and this religion alone, that is the object of the secularist’s wrath. We must guard against being fooled by his talk of the generic “religion:” There is a reason why we never hear about the War on Hanukkah or the War on Ramadan.
Third, the assault against Christianity is part of a much larger cultural trajectory, an ever-growing propensity of Western peoples to visit transformative change upon their civilization generally, and its apex — America — specifically.
For the better part of the last two millennia, not only has Christianity been the faith of the West; as Belloc observed, the two had fused into one. What this means, though, is that if the West is to be transformed, then Christianity — the blood that has flowed through its veins, the spirit that has propelled its imagination to heretofore undreamt of heights — must die. Either it must, like the dinosaur, go away outright or, what is more feasible, render itself into an instrument that can readily be enlisted in the service of cultural transformation.
Either way, whether its enemies are consciously aware of this or not, it is nothing less than the death of Christianity for which they call.
Still, while there is no small measure of anti-Christian animus in the world, talk of “the War on Christmas” is nothing more or less than the stuff of media sensationalism. But that which serves the interests of journalists, pundits, and their employers need not necessarily serve the interests of Christians.
Besides it being simply false, there are at least two other reasons — one practical, the other historical — why Christians should object to the annual hype about a “war” on Christmas.
For one, Christmas is the time that Christians prepare for the advent of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Yet if they are forever being pressured at just this time to view themselves as combatants in an interminable war in defense of their faith, the peace of mind for which they strive during the Christmas season promises to be elusive.
Attacks on Christmas and Christianity are discouraging, but thinking that there is an all-out war on them is enough to rob Christians of “the good cheer” that Eddie Pola and George Wyle implore all of us to exhibit in their famous Christmas carol, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
Second, the notion that there is a “War on Christmas” is offensive from an historical perspective. Since its emergence, Christianity has all too regularly had war — real, bloody, war — waged upon it. Not infrequently, though, it has been one brand of Christianity that has come under attack by the champions of another. The most ardent of our secularist contemporaries, no less than their Christian counterparts, can only recoil in horror upon hearing of how Christians of yesteryear were treated at times and places by other Christians.
And as for Christmas, if the prevalence of “Happy Holidays” is the sign of a war, then what must we think of the 17th-century ban on public Christmas celebrations that the Puritans imposed for roughly two decades? Again, in the 1600s, the spectacle to which we bear witness is that of Christians appropriating measures of which Bill O’Reilly’s “Secular Progressives” could scarcely conceive.
Not at any time has Christianity been without its share of hostile critics. Nor will there be any time in the future when things will be otherwise. But the penchant for construing every instance of hostility as a shot fired in an endless war not only blinds one to history. It is the surest way to preclude the peace of mind that Christ promised.