Friday, 24 December 2010

“Merry __________mas”

Written by  Dan Fisher

Christmas paradeThis December, on courthouse lawns and other public places across America, you’ll see decorative lights, Santa and his reindeer, snowmen, “holiday trees,” and maybe even an angel or two. The only guest who’ll probably be missing from this birthday party is the guest of honor himself. Oddly, there’s even room for elves, tin soldiers, candy canes, and sugarplums — just no room for Christ. The lunacy of celebrating a holiday called Christmas that commemorates the birth of Christ without recognizing Christ could only happen in the philosophically inconsistent but politically correct America. Think of it: You can openly celebrate Christmas just as long as you don’t mention Christ.

Does this make any sense? Imagine if the same politically correct standard were applied to the celebration of other holidays. Imagine the celebration of Hanukkah where Jews are expected to forgo the Festival of Lights or other Jewish traditions. How receptive do you think Muslims would be to the idea of celebrating Ramadan with no mention of Allah, the Quran, or Muhammad? Imagine Valentine’s Day without any references to Saint Valentine — a day where only candy and flowers could be displayed. What kind of sense would it make to not be able to talk about Columbus on Columbus Day — Columbus, Ohio, perhaps, but not Christopher Columbus? What if on Martin Luther King’s birthday, instead of honoring Martin Luther King, we honored fictional characters and animals? How well would that fly?

Ridiculous? No more ridiculous than celebrating a Christ-less Christmas.

What makes this so crazy is that Christmas has been celebrated in America practically from the moment explorers first landed on our shores. As people sailed across the Atlantic to the new world, among the many things they brought with them was Christmas. It is indeed one of the oldest of our religious celebrations. For centuries, Christmas has been a time of joy and festivity enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike. How ironic that until today’s “enlightened” times we were blind to just how “damaging” and “offensive” the celebration of Christmas as a Christian Holy Day can be to some people.

Today some are telling us that it’s unconstitutional to acknowledge Christmas in the public square and that we must bow to political correctness by removing “Christ” from our Christmas, making it a non-religious “seasonal” holiday instead. But even if we comply, it still won’t fix the problem because the word “holiday” means “holy day” so, in the long run, we’ll need to stop using the word “holiday” as well.

A New Day in America

So it’s a new day in America. Along with the traditional ritual of unpacking the Christmas decorations in preparation for the month-long celebration, another ritual has been added — the growing national obsession of “de-Christing” Christmas. Anti-Christmas sentiments range from the innocently ignorant to the utterly insane. For example, in 2009, an elementary school in Massachusetts forbade students from wearing red and green elf hats because red and green are Christmas colors and therefore religious and illegal. According to the Liberty Counsel, in 2006 Lowe’s employees were not allowed to say “Merry Christmas” to customers unless the customer initiated the holiday greeting. In October of this year, the Richmond-based business Dominion Resources, Inc., became the sponsor of the 26-year-old Richmond Christmas parade. Upon taking the reins, Dominion promptly announced that the word “Christmas” would be dropped from the event’s name. Oddly, the parade’s theme this year is “Celebrating Holiday Traditions,” so Dominion felt it was their job to erase 26 years of Christmas tradition in the process of “celebrating holiday traditions.” Thankfully, this did not fly with the public, and when Richmond citizens and people around the country found out, they inundated Dominion with thousands of phone calls and e-mails forcing them to change their minds and return “Christmas” to the parade’s title. So at least for this year, there will be a Christmas parade in Richmond.

Proving that it’s never too early to launch an attack on Christmas, this summer officials of Loudoun County, Virginia, were planning to forbid the display of all religious Christmas symbols at their courthouse. This ban would have outlawed decorations that have been displayed there every Christmas for the past 50 years. A county spokesman said, “We want a non-religious, but traditional program, which eliminates all religious expression.” But it did not work out that way. Bowing to public pressure, Loudoun County officials reversed their decision and Christmas decorations will be displayed at the courthouse for at least one more year. And last, but certainly not least, on October 4 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a school ban on religious holiday music. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the ban, which had been imposed by the South Orange and Maplewood school district in New Jersey. Many fear that the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, thereby allowing the ban to stand, sent a signal to school districts across the nation that Christmas carols are out, thus taking us one step further toward a completely Christ-less Christmas in America.

Situations like these happen over and over in America every Christmas season. It appears that some just cannot tolerate the honest, historic, harmless celebration of what is arguably the most celebrated holiday around the world. What is so ironic is that those who stand so adamantly against Christmas are the very ones who preach the message of tolerance so vociferously. Of course their brand of tolerance is a “one way” street that only goes their way. One must wonder, “What is it about Christmas that so offends these people?”

Why the Change?

There is a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act III, scene II that answers this question. In this line, the Queen says, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The loudness and shrillness of the “Christmas protestors” gives them away. We must ask, “If there’s nothing to Christianity, as many of these folks believe, why make such a fuss?” It would appear they are either terrified at the thought that the Bible might be true, so they want it “out of sight and out of mind,” or their distaste for Christ is so strong they just can’t bear the thought of millions openly, publicly celebrating His birth. Driven by their angst for Christmas, it seems clear that these people will never rest until every vestige of religious expression is eradicated from the American landscape.

Of course, those who war against Christianity claim they merely want to remove it from the public square because religious expression on public property is unconstitutional. Is this really true? Consider the following statements from our Founders:

“[It is] the duty of all wise, free, and virtuous governments to countenance and encourage virtue and religion. I therefore recommend a general and public return of praise and thanksgiving to Him from whose goodness these blessings descend.” John Jay, first Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

“As to the subject of religion … no power is given to the general government to interfere with it at all.... Every man has a right to worship the Supreme Being in the manner he thinks proper.” Richard Dobbs Spaight, signer of the Constitution

“The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.” John Adams

“This is a religious people.... From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.” U.S. Supreme Court

“Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion.... The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ … and to this we owe our free constitution of government.” Noah Webster

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” John Quincy Adams

The idea that public religious expression is unconstitutional goes against everything we know about the founding of our country and our history. The belief that allowing religious expression on public property is “establishing” a state religion or church is laughable. There is a huge difference between “allowing” and “establishing.” Anyone who has a cursory knowledge of our Founders knows that they were committed to creating a country where there would be freedom “of” religion, not freedom “from” religion. True, they did not want an “established” church like England, but America has never been, nor is it at this time, anywhere near establishing a “state” church. Displaying Christmas decorations that are religious in nature at a courthouse, school, or other government building certainly does not constitute the “establishment” of a state church.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, not freedom from being offended. Practically every day we are all offended by something or someone. But, most of us are able to write off these “offenses” to the cost of liberty.

In 2005, Ben Stein illustrated this point well: “I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we … aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? … But there are a lot of us who are wondering … where the America we knew went to.”

Some two thousand years ago, there was no room for Him in an inn, so Jesus entered this world in a stable. Rejected by an innkeeper, He was received by shepherds. Though hated by the political elite of his own nation, foreign kings traveled many miles to worship Him.

In two thousand years, things haven’t changed all that much. The world is still trying to force Him out. Every year, Christmas reawakens the age-old struggle — “Is He who He claimed to be or is he a fraud?” For those who seek the truth, He continues to fill the blank spot their hearts. So, from one seeker who has found that _________mas only leaves the human heart empty, let me wish you a very “politically incorrect” but “historically and religiously accurate” Merry CHRISTmas.

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