The War on Christmas

An interesting story, which has been somewhat buried by other news of national importance, such as the raging Wikipedia debate, stupid sports teams, “the bay bridge is really expensive,” and other sundry items.

Did you know that the White House sends out holiday cards every year, to supporters and friends of the administration? 1.4 million cards, this year, to be precise. I’m sure you also know that our president is a self confessed reborn evangelical Christian. So the religious right is delighted that we have a religious godbag in office, the left freaks out, and the rest of us simply remain confused.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Jesus. He’s a pretty cool guy. Historical evidence strongly suggests that he was not, in fact, born on Christmas, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that Christmas was invented by the Romans to subvert a pagan holiday into a Christian one (see Valentine’s day, Easter, and almost all major Christian holidays for details, kids). However, Christmas is fun times. Almost every religion practices some sort of party in December, because, let’s face it, December is cold and lame and we need some candles, singing, and presents to liven it up.

At any rate, the White House sends out holiday cards. Now this is an important distinction–they are not Christmas cards, they are holiday cards. Just like department stores have holiday sales. And businesses wish you “happy holidays.” This is not some sort of deliberate Jesus-bashing, but rather an attempt to recognize that some people are not Christian. Some people have menorahs at home, not Christmas trees. Some people fast in the November/December area, instead of cooking a goose. Some people dance around big fires on the Solstice, instead of drinking themselves silly on egg nog. And that’s ok, because this is America. We all celebrate holidays, even the damn atheists, and therefore, it’s appropriate to wish someone “happy holidays.”

However, a lot of Christians seem to disagree with this. They have an annoying habit of pushing their religion on us, even those of use who are perfectly happy with our own religions and don’t need someone else’s, thank you. So the Christian right is all up in arms about the “holiday” cards sent out by the White House.

“This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture,” said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Yes, because the worst elements in our culture are clearly on a mission to destroy Jesus! Respect for other people’s personal religious choices is subversive!

Bush “claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn’t act like one,” said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily .com. “I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it.” Gee, that’s odd, considering that he lets the evangelical movement walk all over him, and dictate his policy choices, 98% of the time.

“Certainly President and Mrs. Bush, because of their faith, celebrate Christmas,” said Susan Whitson, Laura Bush’s press secretary. “Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths.” Someone probably told the shrub to lay off on the rah rah Jesus cards, because the Moroccan ambassador was getting pissed.

…there is, in the words of the Heritage Foundation, a war on Christmas involving an “ever-stronger push toward a neutered holiday season so that non-Christians wont be even the slightest bit offended.” And what, exactly, is wrong with not offending people? I’m fairly certain that Jesus wasn’t too into offending people. I’m also fairly certain that none of my Jewish friends have tied me down and forced me to play dreidl.

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether this is sinister — it’s the purging of Christ from Christmas — or whether it’s just political correctness run amok,” he said. “I think in the case of the White House, it’s just political correctness.” I love how Wildmon completely ignores the fact that at this time of year, there are multiple holidays. No one is purging the Christ from Christmas–they are merely celebrating in their own personal ways, some of which involve personal beliefs which go back to pre-Christian times. I think most holiday celebrants are not anti-Christ (hah hah), but rather non-Christmas people. That’s ok, for the love of God!

He was not mollified by a letter from Lands’ End saying it “adopted the ‘holiday’ terminology as a way to comply with one of the basic freedoms granted to all Americans: freedom of religion.” Ah yes, traditional American values. You go, Lands End.

The current Bush has straddled the divide, offering generic greetings along with an Old Testament verse. I dig it. Nice happy medium there. Everyone loves the old testament. Rape, torture, people being torn apart by dogs…YEAH!

“I think it’s more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards,” said the council’s general secretary, the Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman. The voice of reason…and terror…all at the same time.

Do I think that a lot of the “holiday greetings” are motivated by a sense of political correctness, rather than inclusiveness. Well…yeah. I do. But I don’t have an immense problem with that. I know there’s a battle these days over being “politically correct” and “oversensitive,” and I do believe that sometimes people go to extremes. But I fail to see how reaching out to all people, rather than a specific group, is a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with wishing someone “happy holidays.” There’s also nothing wrong with wishing someone “merry Christmas.” You should just be aware that the person you are wishing it to may not practice Christmas. And that’s ok. I prefer to say “happy holidays,” especially to strangers, because I think it is reasonable to believe that since I don’t know them, I shouldn’t assume they are Christian. Personally, I adore Christmas and Christmas iconography. I love it when people wish me a merry Christmas, but not because I love Christ (although I do), because I love the holidays in general, and I know that for some of us, “Christmas” is the only acceptable holiday, and that wishing me merry Christmas is the only way they can wish me a happy holiday. And that’s ok too, as long as they stay out of my uterus, laws, and personal moral beliefs.

And remember, before you get all up in arms, American Christmasateers, that the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas. The Puritans were pretty boring, actually.

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