I hope all my American friends had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving holiday yesterday. Today is the day that many folks start to put up their Christmas decorations. With this in mind, I thought I would share some of my thoughts regarding what some call the “War on Christmas.”
Some people have become very upset that employees at certain stores can’t say “Merry Christmas,” that some towns are in legal battles over creches on public property, or that their kids can’t sing Christmas carols at their public school’s “winter concert.” They want to “take Christmas back.” Well, good for them! I would argue, however, that they’re starting in the wrong place. You see, in America, we don’t have a state religion. The founding fathers were borderline Christians at best, some only deists. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution puts it plainly: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
People often complain about the government doing “too much” for people, and usually that means public aid requiring our tax dollars – something Jesus would love actually. You know, he was all about helping the poor. Folks don’t want to hear about that though. However, they’re ALL FOR the government suddenly becoming religious at Christmas, and not for giving to the poor, but for putting some plaster figures of a couple and their baby in the town park, or for a tree at the White House to be called “Christmas” instead of “holiday.”
Here’s what I think. Instead of having the government proclaim our religion for us (which it is NOT its job to do), we should stop being so lazy and proclaim our religion OURSELVES.
So, folks need to stop wanting the town to put a creche in the town park and put one on their lawn. That’s right. Proclaim the faith of YOUR HOME. It’s not the town’s job to be Christian, it’s YOURS. I can count on ONE HAND the number of creches I see on individual property around my area. It’s pathetic. Yet I see dozens of inflatable Santas. We need to take responsibility for our faith. I’m not saying you HAVE to put a creche in your yard, but if you don’t, then don’t complain about a town not having one in the park. Everyone in our neighborhood and anyone who drives by our house knows we’re Christians because we have a lovely, simple creche in our yard.
As for the “holiday” tree vs. “Christmas” tree debate, I DO fall on the side of calling it a Christmas tree. Denying Christmas is different than forcing people to celebrate. By changing the name they try to deny what it really is to make it more acceptable, and I’m not for that. Not that a Christmas tree encapsulates the holiday. Christmas trees are a relatively recent addition to the celebration of Christmas. Then again, you can call it whatever you want, but it’s still a Christmas tree – a rose is a rose is a rose… But then again, is it a Christmas tree if there are NO religious symbols on it? Is a tree decorated with balls and lights but no angels, crosses, baby Jesuses, or nativity scenes a Christmas tree, or is it something else? That’s a whole other debate. But you know what? The tree in MY house? THAT, my friends, IS a Christmas tree, and I’ll share it with everyone who wants to see it. I’m not going to lose sleep over what the government calls the lighted tree in or outside of the White House.
I also don’t lose sleep over the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” from the salesperson in the store. I can’t believe how important this has become, because I could really care less. Since we are a country with no established religion, I would never want to force a Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or atheist etc… employee to wish me a Merry Christmas. Really. It puts them in a very difficult theological position personally. Again, we need to stop being lazy and take responsibility for ourselves. Who cares what the salesperson says to us??? What is coming out of OUR mouths??? Wish everyone and anyone Merry Christmas with joy in your heart if you want! If the person you’re speaking with isn’t Christian then they can do with it what they will. Heck, I’ve been wished Happy Hanukkah and I love it!
I feel the same way about public school kids singing Christmas carols. There are PLENTY of secular songs to choose from – “White Christmas,” “No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Silver Bells” etc… all part of our culture and none of them forcing a child of another (or no) religion to proclaim Jesus. I am most certainly raising my children as Christians and they go to church every week. But I have no expectation that my children will sing Christmas songs in school. Our house echoes with wonderful religious and secular songs throughout the season, and we sing Advent and Christmas hymns in church. I don’t need the school to provide that for my children. If you want your child to be taught about Jesus and sing about Jesus in school, then send them to a private school.
The so-called “War on Christmas” isn’t about Christmas being taken away from Christians – NO ONE can do that to us. We can only do that to ourselves. Christmas is about how WE celebrate, not how the culture celebrates for us. There are millions of Christians around the world who are minorities in their communities, and yet they still celebrate. There are places in this world where Christians are truly persecuted for their faith, and yet they still celebrate, even in the face of personal danger.
The only war on Christmas is the one waged in our own hearts and minds. And YOU have control over who wins that war, not the government.